Authorities in South Carolina are cracking down on distracted driving over the holiday weekend.
Lance Cpl. Judd Jones with the South Carolina Highway Patrol said troopers will have a distracted driving enforcement period into next week to ensure that travelers are driving safely during the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of collisions on our roadways,” he said. “Especially during the holiday travel season.”
In 2016 there were 16 fatal accidents reported in South Carolina during the holiday period, Jones said.
“We’re just trying to do things to keep from having another weekend like that this year,” he said.
One way in which the patrol hopes to limit numbers is to monitor drivers who are text messaging as they are operating their vehicles.
“When it comes to distracted driving there are three different types of distractions,” Jones said. “You have your visual distractions, your mental distractions and your physical distractions and when it comes to texting and driving all three of those factors are involved.”
A state law also addresses the use of “text-based communications” which includes text messaging, instant messaging and sending emails. Under the law, enforced in 2014, “it is unlawful for a person to use a wireless electronic communication device to compose, send, or read a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle on public streets and highways.”
Exceptions to the law include if the driver is parked, stopped at a stop sign or red light, using a device’s GPS function, using a hands-free wireless electronic communication device, texting a request for emergency assistance, using a digital dispatch system, or performing duties as a public safety official.
If motorists are found violating the ban over the course of the enforcement period, they will be fined, Jones said. He urges drivers to be vigilant of the texting-and-driving law, and be mindful of accidents and crews working along the interstate over the holiday weekend.
“We want motorists to be aware that there are many forms of distracted driving and distracted driving is defined as any activity that distracts a driver from the task of driving and increases their risk of being involved in a traffic collision,” he said.