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Thursday, September 24, 2020

South Carolina Legislators Advance Hands-Free Bill

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A South Carolina hands-free driving bill appears to be gaining momentum. HB3355, filed by Rep. Bill Taylor, was passed through the transportation sub-committee and then advanced through the House Education and Public Works committee. It will now be heard on the House floor.

AAA Carolinas was among a host of organizations that testified in favor of the bill, and will continue to support advancement of this proposed legislation.

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. This number is staggering by itself, but we believe the statistics are actually much higher. Law enforcement seldom codes a crash as resulting from “distraction” because it is too hard to prove under the current laws.

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.

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