Would A Texting While Driving Ban Make Charleston’s Roads More Safe?

Posted by the Charleston, SC Car Accident Attorneys at Anderson & Schuster, Attorneys at Law, LLC. Our Charleston auto accident lawyers help those injured in car, truck and motorcycle accidents in Charleston, North Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Summerville and across the South Carolina lowcountry.

On September 9th, the Charleston City Council will ask for the public's input on outlawing texting behind the wheel.  This topic has been discussed before on our Blog focusing on how this proposed legislation could affect the public from a DUI standpoint.  As it stands now, the proposed ordinance would make it illegal for drivers to use hand-held devices behind the wheel, and would cover any form of texting including, the reading of texts, emailing, or typing.  At this point the ban does not make it illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving.

It appears that a majority of the concern related to the ban is the ability to enforce it effectively because it would be hard to discern whether a motorist was in the act of texting or simply placing a phone call or using a GPS application on their phone.  Police would have the ability to subpoena phone records from cellular carriers to assist them in proving that a motorist was texting while driving, but it is yet to be determined whether this will be enough.  The proposed fine for the violation is $100.00 with no points being assessed against the motorist's driver's license.  The ban is scheduled to be voted on later this fall.

What doesn't seem to be up for debate is how potentially dangerous texting and driving can be.  According to www.distraction.gov, texting, specifically, is very dangerous while driving because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver.   It is the driver's attention diversion away from the primary task of driving that has lead to the national campaign to make people aware of the dangers of texting and driving.

Key Facts and Statistics About Texting and Driving

  • In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010.  An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010.
  • 10% of injury crashes in 2011 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
  • As of December 2012, 171.3 billion text messages were sent in the US every month.
  • 11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.  This age group has the larges proportion of drivers who were distracted.
  • For drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 21% of the distracted drivers were distracted by the use of cell phones.
  • At any given moment in America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.
  • Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.
  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent at 55 mph of driving length of an entire football field, blind.
  • A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive.  20% of teens and 10% of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving. 

Sources:   Charleston texting-while-driving ban goes to public hearing  www.distraction.gov "What is Distracted Driving?"

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