AAA Carolinas Applauds Advancement of SC Hands-Free Bill

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

AAA Carolinas is applauding South Carolina legislators for moving a bill forward that would make it illegal for motorists to use hand-held communication devices, such as cell phones, while driving.

Rep. Bill Taylor (R-86) filed HB3355 in December and on Tuesday the bill was approved by the transportation sub-committee. It will now make its way to the full House Education and Public Works Committee for consideration next week.

AAA Carolinas was among a host of organizations that testified in favor of the bill on Tuesday.

“We are pleased to see movement with this important proposed legislation and commend lawmakers for addressing the epidemic of distracted driving,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “This bill is about saving lives and making our South Carolina roads safer for everyone.”

In South Carolina in 2018, there were 19,381 collisions resulting in 65 fatalities and 7,939 injuries as a direct result of distracted driving, according to the SCDPS.

“The number of crashes due to distracted driving is staggering, but we believe the statistics are actually higher,” added Wright. “Law enforcement seldom codes a crash proven to be a direct result from distraction because it is too difficult to prove and motorists aren’t going to readily admit they were driving distracted behind the wheel.”

The hands-free bill would prohibit drivers from handling their phone and other electronic devices while behind the wheel. It will give law enforcement the ability to stop a driver simply for holding their phone, whereas in the past they would have to have a secondary reason like speeding or not wearing a seatbelt.

It will carry a $200 fine – up from South Carolina’s current texting while driving fine of $25 if convicted.

Last year Georgia became the 16th state to pass hands-free legislation and the state has already seen positive results since the law took effect July 1.

Of the 15 other states with similar phone bans, 13 saw at least a 16 percent decrease in fatalities since their laws went into effect.