So, you’re driving down the road when your phone generates a familiar sound. Someone has just sent you a message. What do you do…look to see what the latest text says, pull over to read it, or ignore it? If your answer is to read it while still driving, you might want to rethink that decision.
It only takes a split second to be looking away, for your car to veer over the line, or you don’t see the car ahead of you, a person on the shoulder, or an animal that just darted into the road. Many people don’t think it will happen to them. And, nearly 341,000 people in 2013 probably thought that as well. But, according to the National Safety Council, they were wrong. That’s how many people were involved in a distracted driving accident that year alone.
A New Law Could Be Trending
It’s instinct to reach for a phone that just informed you there is a new message sent, even while driving. After all, it could be the school to let you know your child is sick, or an important message from a client, or a that popular and good-looking senior you’ve been wanting to call. While it might seem as though these are messages that cannot wait, they can. Looking down or away to read the message, or check to see who it was, can be deadly. Not only to you, but for that innocent and unsuspecting person trying to get to their destination alive and well.
Reports say that those who text while driving are at an alarmingly higher risk of an accident, than those who do not. In fact, 23 times more apt to hit something or someone. And, California recently took this seriously. As of January 1, 2017, California now bans drivers from operating (while holding) a cell phone for any reason. The only exception are functions requiring just a simple single-finger swipe, or tap. It also requires the phone to be mounted on the dashboard or windshield, which means you cannot text and drive, dial, change the song on your playlist, or even hold the phone while letting a GPS system navigate your route.
Perhaps as one of the strictest laws regarding cell phone usage and driving, people need to pay attention, because California might be setting the pace for other states. So, South Carolina drivers might want to act now in preparation for a similar law to be created soon.
Bans seem to be working. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), studies show that 69% of U.S. drivers, between the ages of 18-64, admit to talking on their cell phone while driving. And, 31% of U.S. drivers of the same age group, admit to reading or sending emails or texts while driving. However, in states where there are strict bans for this type of distracted driving, there is a drop by about 7%, compared to states with more relaxed laws.
So, if this seems to work for other states, South Carolina might follow suit.
Texting While Driving in Anderson, South Carolina – Knowing the Existing Laws
South Carolina passed their first statewide law regarding driving while texting, back in 2014. Prior to that, it was left up to the local authorities to establish restrictions and penalties. However, when drivers would be passing through various towns, it was difficult to know, comprehend, and follow so many varied laws. The statewide law helps eliminate so much confusion.
The law in question declares that drivers are still allowed to use and their cell phone to make and receive calls, as well as use it for GPS purposes. It also still allows the person to hold the phone while using it when driving. If that wasn’t lenient enough, the penalty for violating that law is only $25, which is affordable by most standards.
A Matter of Time Before South Carolina Falls in Line
It’s a belief by many that the current South Carolina distracted driving law is outdated and does not go far enough to keep the public safe. With statistics as alarming as they are, it’s just a matter of time before South Carolina enacts tougher laws.
Compared to other states, South Carolina is behind the times in cracking down on people texting while driving. In fact, it’s just recent that the state enacted legislation that would be considered archaic to other states. To give you an idea, there are 20 states (and Washington D.C.) that have a complete ban on cell phone use while driving for beginning drivers, as well as school bus drivers.
There are studies performed that indicate stricter laws including harsher penalties for distracted driving, have decreased the number of incidents and provide safer roads as a result. Even if South Carolina is behind in this area, it will most likely catch up. So, plan on a ban coming your way some day.
What to Do if You Find Yourself on the Other Side of a Distracted Driving Accident in Anderson, SC
You may be one who does not ever text or call while driving, which is great. It’s much safer that way, even if the law is lenient. However, that doesn’t mean the person heading your way, or coming up quickly behind you, follows the same common sense reasoning as you do.
Unfortunately, distracted driving accidents often include perfectly innocent drivers and passengers, not just the distracted driver. If you are involved in an accident when someone was texting, you should know that you have rights! While South Carolina might be behind other states for the driving laws, it does have laws to protect the victims. The statue of comparative negligence is followed when it assigns liability in a person injury case.
What that means for you, is that the less responsibility you have in the accident, the more you could be entitled to in compensation for damages. And, if a distracted driver caused your accident by breaking the law, it’s probable that they will be held more liable and accountable for the accident.
Krause, Moorhead & Draisen, P.A., in Anderson, South Carolina can assist you in making sure your rights are protected and you get the help you need. Medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering are all areas that can devastate a family in a split second. The determined South Carolina car accident attorneys here will evaluate your individual situation, then work on your behalf to bring some fairness back to your life.