The Legislatures failure to ban motorists from texting hurts the state
What will it take to prod the S.C. Senate to outlaw texting while driving?
It seems that grim statistics, which show the likelihood of deaths and accidents increases when drivers send and receive text messages, arenít persuasive to members.
Encouragement from safety organizations hasnít changed their minds.
And the fact that at least 37 other states across the country and a number of municipalities in South Carolina have enacted bans doesnít seem to make any difference.
The House of Representatives this year, as it did two years ago, agreed to legislation that would have made it illegal to text message while driving. The fine for a first offense would have been $100. An offender who causes a fatal wreck would have faced jail time.
The Senate, again, failed to make it happen.
Perhaps members didnít read recent news reports from Massachusetts where people take the issue seriously ó as it deserves to be.
In February, a high school student who was texting and driving crashed into another vehicle. The driver died, and his girlfriend was seriously injured.
A jury found him guilty of vehicular homicide and texting while driving. He will spend a year in jail and three years on probation. He will lose his driverís license for 15 years, and he will have to pay a monetary sum that is not yet determined.
Members of the Senate should recognize their core responsibility to provide for public safety. Cell phone use while driving is dangerous, but texting while driving is exponentially more so.
As we have said before, the arguments some legislators have raised donít hold up. Government involvement in this issue isnít nanny statism. Driving on public roads is not a right but a privilege. Governments limit speed and require seat belts. They should ban texting.
And a ban would be as enforceable as seat belt laws ó perhaps more so since telephone records can be accessed to determine if texting took place in the event of an accident.
It is a pity that motorists and pedestrians across South Carolina will have to spend another year without the protection that a ban on texting while driving could provide them.
During the next session, state lawmakers should start right away working together to get it done.