Don't h8 txt law

New hard-to-enforce rule of the road needs more teeth

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Next time you stop at a red light, glance around at the rear-view mirrors of the cars in front of you.

Chances are, you’ll see the reflections of drivers with their heads up and eyes forward. Unfortunately, you’re just as likely to see heads down and eyes on a smartphone or other electronic gadget in their laps.

And sadly, many of these motorists won’t put the phone down once the light changes.

So it’s understandable that most U.S. states – the latest being South Carolina – have adopted texting-while-driving bans since Washington became the first in 2007.

This page is not one to clamor for additional laws and restrictions on personal liberties – government does well enough without encouragement from us. But we wholeheartedly support anti-texting laws.

If texting while driving only hurt the person driving, it would be a different story. But texting is a serious public safety issue, as anyone who has ever witnessed an accident or near-accident caused by a text-messaging motorist would agree.

Operating a motor vehicle, even at the height of alertness, usually is the most dangerous thing any person does on an average day. Taking your eyes of the road to attend to a text message that, in all likelihood, is neither urgent nor vitally important, is beyond irresponsible.

“A distracted driver is just as bad as someone under the influence,” Georgia State Patrol Sgt. Chris Wright says. “It may be worse.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a quarter of teens respond to texts once or more every time they drive. At least 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit to having extended, multimessage text conversations while driving.

While we applaud South Carolina for its ban, it lacks the teeth to promote the compliance it deserves. Its $25 fine is tied with Alabama’s and Kentucky’s for second-cheapest in the nation, behind California where the fine is $20.

The Palmetto State’s fine is far lower than those in neighboring states – Georgia, $150; North Carolina, $230 – and is lower than even the municipal fines adopted by some South Carolina cities, such as Charleston, where violators faced a $100 fine. The new state law supplants those local ordinances.

And, unlike in other states, a violation in South Carolina is not considered a criminal offense, which means it will not be included in state Department of Motor Vehicles records or reported to insurance companies.

Realistically, South Carolina’s texting law will be as difficult to enforce as Georgia’s. Both states require police to have a “clear and unobstructed view” of a text-based act that includes text messages, email and instant messaging before a citation is issued.

Drivers pulled over for suspected texting often claim to be dialing, which is not considered illegal. And because officers cannot seize, search or view your phone, there is no way to prove you were texting.

South Carolina’s law exempts texting while parked; stopped at stop signs or red lights; using GPS functions; texting a request for emergency assistance; or performing duties as a public safety official. Georgia’s law is not specific, so there is some debate as to whether being stopped at a traffic light or stop sign is “driving.”

Still, a weak law in this case is better than no law. But look at New York, where all phone use is prohibited while driving; or Alaska, where texting-while-driving charges can include jail.

South Carolinians should take the new no-texting law for what it is – a friendly, though highly official, reminder that texting while driving is dangerous. If motorists can’t police themselves and put the phone down while behind the wheel, they can fully expect lawmakers to crack down with stricter and stricter laws.

And that would be nothing to LOL about.

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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 06/27/14 - 10:31 am
Ask yourself this question.

Would you text someone while you are engaged in firing a weapon on a firing range while you have your family and friends around you?
Texting while driving is just as dangerous and has the same potential outcome!!

Darby 06/27/14 - 11:03 am
"Would you text someone while you are engaged

in firing a weapon on a firing range....?"

Don't know why I'd want to, but yes. If I'm on a firing range, then at the moment I fire, I'm looking downrange, my eyes are on the target and the front sight of my weapon and my family and friends are behind me, nowhere near the line of fire.

Really pretty hard to text at that time though. Although the numb-nuts out there can find all sorts of GOOD reasons to text while racing down a public highway with all sorts of human life in front of and to the side of them.

jimmymac 06/27/14 - 01:10 pm

What is so important now days that there was be instant communication? While technology has improved many aspects of our daily lives this texting problem has done much damage. Many are killed and maimed every year due to ignorant people just having to make that text. Pull your car over and do what you will be don't endanger other peoples lives through your narcissism.

x 06/27/14 - 01:46 pm
A bad law that will kill more people

The unintended consequence of this law is that MORE people will be looking down at their phones because they're afraid if they hold them up they'll be spotted and pulled over for texting, even if they're not. Any law that causes people to take their eyes off the road (which this law does) is a feel-good measure at best and dangerous at worst.

d1zmljqg 06/27/14 - 02:25 pm
I do believe

I saw a motorcyclist texting while travelling at about 35-40 mph on a main road just last week.

Also, it's introducing a new source of road rage. E.g., traffic signals revert back to red when the "volume" of traffic is not moving or very low. The "texter" is preventing traffic to move when the light turns green, sensors "sees" no traffic, hence the light reverts back to red. Non-texters behind become road rage mad!

I'm for huge fines, but at the present texters aren't likely to be caught, which they well know.

Darby 06/27/14 - 06:02 pm
"Any law that causes people to take their eyes

off the road (which this law does) is a feel-good measure at best and dangerous at worst."

YOU can hold your phone up and text without taking your eyes off the road?

Don't think so.....

Sounds to me like you're just determined to text and drive no matter what.

oldredneckman96 06/27/14 - 08:47 pm
Just how clueless are these folks

Any phone sold today has software that can be used to shut off the texting feature when the phone is moving by the service providers. GPS and the time stamp can used to convict those who do not believe this is a real problem. Law enforcement just has to move to the modern age of electronics.

Young Fred
Young Fred 06/27/14 - 11:52 pm
I agree

whole heartedly! But don't stop there. The mere fact of using a cell phone means you're not paying attention as you should!

That's the grimey little secret nobody wishes to address.

If you grab your phone and call someone, or if your phone rings and you answer while driving, you are not paying proper attention to the road!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It drives me crazy! Are you that important that you can't wait until your car is stopped to answer a call? If you answered yes, I can only say, God help you when you kill someone, and somebody else better help you if you hurt one of mine!

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