CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 30, 2019) – AAA Carolinas was among 30 other interested parties that spoke on behalf of South Carolina’s newest hands-free bill, S.723.
Senate Bill 723, filed by Senator Tom Young, was heard in the Transportation Subcommittee on Tuesday, October 29. This bill is still in the early stages, but is aimed at prohibiting motorists from driving with a wireless device in their hands, and to make the punishment stricter if they’re caught doing so.
“This legislation is so important and we are happy to see that South Carolina legislators recognize that,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “This is a bill that motorists themselves are asking for – as more and more people are negatively affected by a distracted driver.”
Among those in attendance was Sheriff Lee Boan, who touched on a recent incident in which his deputy was struck by a vehicle while directing traffic because the driver was distracted.
In South Carolina in 2018, there were 19,381 documented 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 don’t even believe this begins to cover it,” said Wright. “Law enforcement hardly ever codes a crash as resulting from distraction because it is too difficult to prove and motorists aren’t going to readily admit to it.”
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 if seen holding their phone, whereas in the past law enforcement would have to have a secondary reason like speeding or not wearing a seatbelt.
It will carry a $100 fine and a threshold for second and subsequent offenses– up from South Carolina’s current $25 fine if convicted.
Hands-free legislation is going into effect across the country, as states aim to make the roads safer. Close to home, Georgia’s recent hands-free legislation is already having a positive impact on its roads.
There are now 20 states and D.C. with similar hands-free laws in place.
The bill will be heard and voted on at a later date to pass to the full transportation committee.