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Statewide texting-and-driving ban arrives in South Carolina

A common thread running throughout this blog has been the topic of distracted driving. With the proliferation of mobile technology and vehicles that have an increasing number of built-in features, there are many things that could take drivers' eyes from the road. Of course, these behaviors can come at a cost.

One of the most discussed issues in the realm of distracted driving is texting behind the wheel. Until just recently, there was no statewide prohibition on the dangerous -- yet common -- activity. This, of course, is a measure of progress and will hopefully protect more drivers throughout the state.

One issue that has entered the picture is how the state law will impact local codes that address distracted driving caused by cell phones and other mobile devices. As we covered in a blog post on Jan. 15, Greenville considered a very tough distracted driving law. The ordinance was eventually approved. Not only was it illegal to text and drive within city limits, but motorists were forbidden from talking on the phone and using navigation tools.

As the state law went into effect, however, any local ordinances will be nullified. This likely includes all of the provisions of Greenville's comprehensive distracted driving ban. One report indicated that any pending charges brought under this law could be thrown out as a result of the new state law.

No matter how criminal penalties or traffic violations change, a driver's duty does not. Even though it may now be legal to use GPS features on a smartphone while driving in Greenville, it might not be a great idea.

Additionally, cell phone use while driving could be construed as negligence in the event of a car accident. This, in turn, could permit action in civil court, no matter how the state ban works out.

Source: WYFF News, "Attorney: Distracted driving tickets will likely be dismissed," Angela Rodriguez, June 19, 2014

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