If Greenville bans texting while driving, more than half a million South Carolinians will live in municipalities with such laws.

But South Carolina is one of only three states without a statewide ban. The others are Arizona and Montana.

Just how much momentum will it take for the S.C. Legislature to get off the dime and act to make our roads safer?

As it stands now, at least 12 municipalities have their own laws, some more strict than others. Greenville's proposed law would ban the use of any hand-held device while driving. Charleston's law, adopted in October, bans texting but allows drivers to make and receive phone calls on hand-held devices.

Pity the poor driver whose route takes him cross-state. He is responsible for knowing that West Union has a texting ban, but Union does not, that texting is banned in unincorporated parts of Beaufort County but not in Allendale.

A smart driver would give up trying to keep it straight and simply lay down his cell phone and keep both hands on the wheel. Actually, any smart driver would refrain from text messaging, with or without a law requiring him to do so. But clearly that isn't going to happen when using cell phones while driving has become routine for many drivers - especially students.

And clearly, the need to address the situation is dire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association reported that, in 2011, 3,331 people died in crashes where drivers were distracted.

Among the South Carolina cities with texting bans are Columbia (population 129,272 in 2010) and West Union (population 291 in 2010).

In the Lowcountry, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Bluffton, Hilton Head, Charleston and Hardeeville have bans.

The General Assembly has not justified to the people of South Carolina why it has rejected proposal after proposal for a texting ban of some kind.

Some members have said a law would be too hard to enforce, but seatbelt laws are enforced.

Some have said that drivers have a right to use their cell phones. Actually, people have no right to drive, much less to use hand-held devices while behind the wheel. Driving is a privilege.

Some have tried to avoid the controversy altogether by joining with telecommunications companies to encourage drivers to voluntarily stop texting while driving. That's not a bad thing to do, but it falls far short of enacting a legal ban.

The state is eager to present itself as a place business owners and their families will want to move. Failing to adopt a simple ban on texting while driving sends the wrong message that their safety and the safety of their employees isn't important.

It's time for the Legislature to pass such a ban. No more excuses.