Lawmaker opposes ban on phone use behind wheel

COLUMBIA --- An Aiken County Republican on Wednesday strongly opposed restrictions of cell phone use while driving, arguing that he's not convinced the practice is dangerous.

"I haven't seen evidence that it's necessary," Sen. Shane Massey said of a proposed ban on handheld cell phones behind the wheel.

"I know there's a lot of speculation out there," said the Edgefield Republican who represents part of Aiken County and ultimately supported a looser bill. The bill before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee, S. 642, was changed from prohibiting all handheld cell phone use to one that only bans texting. It cleared the subcommittee with Massey's support and was also amended to apply to drivers of all ages, instead of only to those younger than 18.

Last month, a AAA representative told House lawmakers nearly 2,600 people nationwide died in cell phone-texting related crashes and drivers who use cell phones while driving have the same motor skills as people with a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content.

On Wednesday, Massey questioned where lawmakers should draw the line on activities that distract drivers.

"I'm not willing to support a ban on hand-hand cell phones, but I do think texting is dangerous," Massey said.

Associated Press reports were used in this article.

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