Texting ban likely dead for the year

Cell Phone

Jae C. Hong

COLUMBIA -- South Carolina drivers likely will not have to adhere to statewide texting and talking bans imposed in other parts of the country.

Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, said today that the Senate is not expected to have the time before the Legislature's scheduled adjournment on Thursday to approve a ban on texting behind the wheel. The House passed the bill earlier this year, but the Senate got tied up on other issues, McConnell said.

About two dozen states have imposed some form of a ban on talking and texting while driving. Clemson City Council became the first city in South Carolina to approve a ban, which went into effect today. Other South Carolina towns and cities are considering a ban on texting while driving, including Mount Pleasant.

Tom Crosby, vice president of communications for AAA Carolinas, said adjourning without passing a text messaging ban is "legislative irresponsibility."

McConnell said he would vote for a ban, but other senators took away the time left in the session to debate the bill and instead pushed other legislation that had no chance of passing this year.

"I think anybody driving and texting, that's dumb thing to do," McConnell said.

About 2,600 people died nationwide in 2008 in crashes that involved cell phone use and drivers who use cell phones are four times as likely to be involved in a crash than those who don't, according to statistics by AAA Carolinas.