Mom uses loss to help save lives Texting while driving legislation

A sign is posted on Ashley Phosphate Road in memory of Tamara Steward of North Charleston. The 28-year-old was killed in a wreck in 2011 while driving and talking on the phone.

Paul Zoeller

The state ranks third in the country for dangerous highways, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration, yet only seven municipalities, including Columbia, have banned texting while driving.

Last month, a Charleston County Council committee discussed the possibility of banning texting while driving, but it didn’t garner much support. In the Lowcountry, only the city of Beaufort has approved a ban.

Efforts to pass such a state-wide bill failed in the General Assembly last year after lawmakers expressed concern about personal liberties being taken away and the difficulty in enforcing such a ban.

State Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, filed another bill in March. He said since then there have actually been a few versions of the bill he’s signed off on that would enhance the penalties for phone usage or texting while driving and another that would ban it under certain circumstances. Gilliard said there seems to be a consensus that something needs to be passed. “I have statistics on my side,” Gilliard said.

Natalia Caula