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South Carolina municipalities ban texting and driving

South Carolina and Montana are the only states that have not imposed any limits on using a cellphone or texting while driving. In the absence of any statewide ban, seven municipalities in South Carolina have taken the lead by prohibiting texting while driving.

Evidence of the danger associated with texting and driving are pervasive. Drivers who use electronic devices while driving increase the odds for a car crash by 23 times according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Text messaging, according to VTTI, removes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field at 55 mph while blind.

The Federal Communications Commission reported that eleven percent of 18 to 20-year-old drivers that were involved in an auto crash were text messaging. In a 2013 report, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 31 percent of surveyed motorists said that they read or sent at least one text message while driving within the past 30 days and 69 percent of drivers from 18 to 64 years-old admitted to talking on cell phones while driving during that time period.

Hilton Head would be the latest South Carolina municipality to impose a ban once its proposed ordinance receives one more vote in its Town Council. This measure would ban drivers from writing or reading texts, emails and other electronic messages while driving within its town limits. Violations would be punished with a misdemeanor fine of $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second violation and $300 for subsequent violations. Drivers could make calls and GPS navigation, audio players, use of hands-free telephone functions and emergency service requests would be exempt.

One Councilman voted against the measure and labeled it a "feel good" measure. Enforcement would be rare unless a statewide measure is set, according to the Councilman.

Absent statewide standards and enforcement, South Carolina motorists and pedestrians face the peril of distracted drivers using cell phones, receiving and sending text messages and using other electronic devices. Car accident victims will suffer injuries and financial losses from these drivers. Auto accident victims should promptly obtain advice concerning their rights to compensation for personal injury, medical treatment, lost wages and other losses.

Source: Hilton Head Island Packet, "Proposed texting ban sends critical message," June 24, 2013

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