A texting message from Greenville
Add Greenville to the growing list of South Carolina cities that ban texting while driving.
After hearing from doctors who said they had seen an increase in the number of accidents due to distracted driving, Greenville City Council on Monday approved a ban that will take affect April 1.
But sadly we can't add South Carolina to the list of states that have bans. This remains one of only nine states that allow the dangerous practice of sending text messages while behind the wheel.
That is despite compelling evidence associating the practice with increases in the number of traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities.
The state Legislature has failed several times to approve a ban on texting while driving. So the state has become a checkerboard of municipalities, those with texting bans and those without - and with specifics of the laws differing from community to community.
Summerville is currently considering a ban. Mount Pleasant and Charleston both have bans, as do Columbia and Beaufort.
Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, has introduced bills to establish a statewide ban on texting. They have gone nowhere. A current version has been referred to the Committee on Education and Public Works.
Legislators have dragged their feet because of arguments that such a ban would be difficult to enforce and would chisel away at people's rights. Opponents of a state texting law also contend that drivers won't stop texting, but might start doing so furtively, thus increasing the risk of accidents.
It is a fact that some cities report issuing few citations for texting while driving because it is difficult for officers to detect.
But it is also a fact that some people will resist the temptation simply because it is against the law and because they fear being caught.
As for a supposed right to text while driving, that's like acknowledging people have a right to put their passengers, other drivers and pedestrians in danger.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that a driver talking on a cell phone is 30 percent more likely to crash - and the probability is higher for people sending texts.
It is obvious that a driver's eyes and hands can't be fully used to drive when he is texting. And research shows that during the time he is distracted a car going 55 miles per hour would travel 100 yards.
South Carolina doesn't allow people to drive under the impairing influence of alcohol.
Why shouldn't it also prohibit people from another potentially tragic activity - texting while driving?