Safety

Letter | Texting law doesn’t go far enough; ban distracted driving nationwide

September 27, 2013 

Re: Sept. 12 article, “Town begins texting ban:”

Why is the emphasis on texting when even talking on a cell phone while driving is very dangerous? It totally defies logic to ban texting, yet still allow people to use their phones while they are driving.

The article states “the effort to pass the ordinance began a few years ago.”. Why would it take so long? Driving while texting, talking or even handling your phone should, without a doubt, be a state violation, but it should also be against the law in all states. Is it deemed to be safer to use a cell phone in Mt. Pleasant than say, in Myrtle Beach? Safer in all of South Carolina as compared to other states that already require hands-free phone use? Certainly the statistics throughout the state as well as the entire nation bear proof that doing anything other than giving full attention to one’s driving and surroundings is an accident waiting to happen.

Since the time I moved down here from up North, it has baffled me to see so many people using their phones while they are driving. Phones are used while backing out of one’s driveway, making a turn at a busy intersection, and even when coming off U.S. 17 on to a frontage road, barely slowing down from the highway speed they were doing. In N.Y. and many other states only hands-free phone use is allowed. But even states with only hands-free phone use do not have strict enough fines and points against a driver’s license to deter cell phone use while behind the wheel of a vehicle.

One Mt. Pleasant council member expressed his opinion: “ I don’t think it’s our job to dictate to the public, stick our hands into their individual liberties and tell them how to live their lives.” Live their lives? Gee, what about the lives of the person(s) who have the misfortune of being on the road at the same time as drivers using their phones? The police chief says it would be difficult to prove a driver is texting. “It has to be an obvious violation.” If there’s any gray area, he doesn’t want his officers to make the charge. Ooookay , so should they wait til there’s no gray area, wait til there’s a serious accident and then check for phone use?

The article states a Mt Pleasant High School is transmitting the texting ban on its message boards, and on social media. Again, why just target texting? If taking steps to educate young people on the dangers of phone use while driving, the dangers of any distractions while driving should also be stressed (reading the newspaper, applying makeup, eating etc.) And why the emphasis on young adults, when many older adults also use their cell phones while driving.

If the goal is to improve safety on the roads, why shouldn’t the law apply to all states, all roads and all drivers throughout the nation. Even better would be if the automotive industry was required to develop technology that would make a cell phone inoperable while the vehicle’s engine is running.

The writer lives in Surfside Beach.

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