South Carolinians Push for Stricter Distracted Driving Laws

South Carolinians Push for Stricter Distracted Driving Laws

Support is building in South Carolina for state lawmakers to pass more comprehensive distracted driving laws.

The Bluffton Town Council sent a formal request to the South Carolina state legislature to expand existing distracted driving laws, reports The Island Packet. Currently, the state has a ban on texting and driving, which was implemented in 2014. People who are found guilty of texting behind the wheel are required to pay a $25 fine. However, other phone use is allowed. As many other states work to establish completely “hands free” regulations, South Carolina is falling behind. A bill which would ban all phone use and raise related fines to $200 failed in the state legislature in 2018. Nineteen other states currently have laws in place which prohibit the use of cellphones while driving, aside from hands-free functionality.

If the plans proposed by the Bluffton Town Council were to become law, drivers in the state could potentially face penalties for other forms of distracted driving that aren’t related to phone use. This could include eating, drinking, interacting with passengers, holding a pet, applying makeup, using headphones, and more. The town council resolution specifically requested that a definition of distracted driving would be included in the Uniform Act Regulating Traffic on Highways, presumably a definition that would include all types of behind-the-wheel distractions.

Barriers to Legislation

The legislative changes proposed by the Bluffton Town Council would have to be approved by the state’s General Assembly, whom the resolution was addressed to. Local administrative bodies are not able to pass their own statutes related to state laws, even if the regulations only apply to their area — any legislation would have to be a statewide measure championed by the General Assembly.

As the dangers of distracted driving (in all its forms) become more apparent, people across the country are supporting stricter legislative action. A bill like the one pitched by the Bluffton Town Council could pioneer comprehensive distracted driving restrictions in the United States.

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