South Carolina lawmakers put an exclamation point on the end of their last session by passing a bill banning texting and driving. The bill awaits approval by the Governor before becoming law. If signed, our state becomes the 49th to ban texting and driving.
While many lawmakers celebrated this measure as embracing the reality that texting and driving can cause fatal car crashes, at least one lawmaker disagreed. According to Charleston’s Post & Courier newspaper, Representative Wendell Gilliard, a Charleston Democrat, began pushing for this legislation years ago after running a red light while texting. He proclaimed the bill’s penalty provision “a joke.”
Under the ban, violators face fines starting at $25, with no license points assessed. The bill allows using GPS, texting to summon emergency services, and texting while stopped at a red light or stop sign.
I agree wholeheartedly with Representative Gilliard’s assessment. This is only a start, and lawmakers should immediately put some teeth in this law to keep everyone safer.
Texting and driving is the cardinal sin of a bigger problem, distracted driving. I applaud the efforts of our lawmakers to start protecting everyone in South Carolina from the danger of texting and driving wrecks. But safety measures can’t be enforced without meaningful consequences. Hopefully our lawmakers will continue the vital work of making us all keep the promise we make when we drive—to keep safety first.
This is an important first step in eliminating texting and driving accidents, but we still have work to do. Stay tuned.