AAA Carolinas Commmends Advancement of SC Hands-Free Bill

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Friday, February 8th, 2019

AAA Carolinas is commending South Carolina legislators for continuing to advance a hands-free bill that would make it illegal for motorists to use hand-held communication devices, such as cell phones, while driving. 

Wednesday, H.3355, filed by Rep. Bill Taylor (R-Aiken) in December, was approved by the full House Education and Public Works Committee. The bill now moves to the full House for approval. 

“We applaud lawmakers for advancing this important legislation and taking a stand against distracted driving,” said Dave Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. “Change starts at the legislative level and passing this bill into law will make South Carolina roads safer and save lives.”

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 for holding their phone, whereas in the past they had to prove the driver was actually texting. 

In South Carolina in 2018, there were 19,381 collisions resulting in 65 fatalities and 7,939 injuries as a direct result of documented cases of distracted driving, according to the SCDPS. AAA Carolinas believes the numbers were actually higher since law enforcement seldom documents the cause of crashes as “distracted driving’ because it is too difficult to prove and motorists won’t readily admit to it.

The bill, as passed by the committee, carries a $200 fine. 

Last year Georgia became the 16th state to pass hands-free legislation and Virginia appears to be in the final stages of passing similar legislation as well.

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.