California's Text & Drive Laws Matter In South Carolina - Bill Green, Lawyer

Why South Carolina Drivers Should Care About Some Big New Laws in California

The next time you get in your car and reach for your cell phone at a stoplight to send a text, think about two things. First, those who text and drive are 23 times more likely to get into a car accident than those who don’t. Second, the state of California just cracked down on the laws regarding cell phone usage while driving in a serious way.

This law, that went into effect on January 1st, 2017, totally prohibits drivers from “holding and operating” their cell phone for any reason at all, except for the functions that require only a single finger swipe or tap. Also, these devices must be mounted on the windshield or dashboard of the vehicle. This means, no texting and driving. No changing your playlist. No dialing. No holding the phone while navigating with a GPS device.

So, why exactly is it important that those who call South Carolina home be aware of the new California Laws? Here are a few compelling reasons.

According to the American Journal of Public Health, there is a direct correlation between laws that strictly ban texting and driving and saving lives. In order to put this in perspective, consider the following:

  • One in four accidents in the US are caused by texting and driving
  • Those who text while driving are 23 time as likely to get into an accident; those who dial the phone are 2.8 times as likely
  • Texting and driving is six times as likely to get you into an accident than drinking and driving
  • One in five drivers admit to surfing the web behind the wheel.

And for teenagers, the data is even more alarming.

  • 11 teenagers die every day in the US as a direct result of texting and driving.
  • 21 percent of teen drivers that are involved in fatal vehicular accidents were distracted by cell phones.
  • Teen drivers are four times more likely than adults to get into crashes, or near-crashes, when they text or talk while driving.
  • 48 percent of teenagers have been in the car while their parents have texted and drove; kids are watching, because
  • 94 percent of teenagers acknowledge the danger of texting and driving, and yet 35 percent of them admit to doing it anyway!

Laws applying to teenagers and adults alike showed a decrease of three to 11 percent, which is enough of a difference for anyone to stop and take notice. If these laws work in other states, why not apply the same legal boundaries in South Carolina?

Texting And Driving in South Carolina – Understanding The Current Laws

In 2014, the state of South Carolina passed a law regarding texting and driving. This was the first time that a statewide law was put into place regarding this subject; previously, it was left to local laws to determine penalties and usage-restrictions. A scattered range of laws made it impossible for anyone to understand what was, and what wasn’t considered legal when it came to using a cell phone while behind the wheel.

The 2014 law states drivers may use their phones for making calls and GPS functions, and that they may have their phone in hand while driving. While police may stop and cite offenders, they cannot “seize, search, view or require the forfeiture” of any wireless electronic communication device that is involved in a violation. Here’s the kicker… the maximum penalty for this offense? $25. The cost of a week’s worth of morning latte’s.

So Why Is It Important What Happens in California?

Some say that South Carolina laws regarding distracted driving are dramatically antiquated and fail to keep people safe. If texting and driving is as big of a danger as statistics show, why isn’t state legislature doing more to protect drivers?

It does seem that South Carolina has a perplexingly “hands off” stance on cracking down on distracted drivers. One source quoted that, since December, 2014, state and local law officers have written only about 2,000 tickets for texting and driving. This is a shockingly low number in comparison to the number of drivers who are, most likely, doing just that.

The truth is, that South Carolina has only, in recent years, enacted legislation that other states have settled upon years earlier; California banned texting and driving in 2008!

For example, 20 states, plus Washington DC, ban cellphone use entirely while behind the wheel for novice drivers and school busses. As a parent, would you want your child riding in the school bus of someone who valued their ability to text a text and drive over safely transporting your son or daughter to and from school? Just one state away, in North Carolina, there’s a ban on cell phone use when driving a school bus; why does the same ban not exist in South Carolina?

Studies have proven that laws that actually penalize drivers for texting, driving, and breaking the law do make the roads safer. Maybe what’s good for California should be good for South Carolina as well? Only time, and public policy, will tell!

What Should You Do If You Get Into An Accident With a Texting Driver?

If you get into an accident with a driver who is texting, or otherwise operating their handheld device, while behind the wheel — the important thing to remember is you do have rights! South Carolina follows the statute of comparative negligence when assigning liability in personal injury cases. This means, that the less responsible you are for the accident you’ve been in, the more you will be eligible to be compensated for damages accrued! A distracted driver breaking the law would, more than likely, be deemed liable for any accident. At Green Law Firm we can fight for your rights and help you get the compensation you need to return your life to normal after an accident has occurred!

From medical bills and lost wages to pain and suffering, we’ll evaluate your case with care and attention and wore tirelessly on your behalf. When you’ve been injured by a distracted drive, let our team of experienced professionals help!

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