South Carolina lags behind in preventing distracted driving car accidents

Up to this point, state legislature has taken a casual attitude towards texting and cell phone use while driving in South Carolina. Considering the risks involved and the number of Carolina automobile accidents that occur because of distracted driving each year, it’s time lawmakers jump on the bandwagon.

Our North Carolina personal injury lawyers and wrongful death attorneys frequently handle accidents caused by driver distraction. In truth, distracted driving is not a new problem. The issue is that drivers now have so much more with which to be distracted, including cell phones, text messaging, e-mails, the Internet, GPS devices and satellite radio.
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The Governors Highway Safety Association is a good source that provides the most up-to-date laws in our state. No state currently bans all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for all drivers but quite a few forbid the use of cell phones to bus drivers or young drivers under 18.

North Carolina is one of these states and considers it a primary offense. North Carolina also has a ban on text messaging for all drivers. In contrast, South Carolina has no specific laws established against cell phone use of any kind or texting while driving.

Some North Carolina drivers find it difficult to distinguish with the inconsistencies between states, let alone in their own state. Technology News Report brings up a good point regarding legality of texting as opposed to using different applications on your iPhones or Blackberrys while driving. It’s illegal to text someone, but not to view messages or look at GPS applications. Such distinctions make law enforcement’s job that much harder; it is tough for police officers to distinguish who is punching buttons on their phone as opposed to just looking at the screen. The first behavior is illegal in North Carolina, the second is not.

Equally difficult to distinguish is whether a driver is under the age of 18, in which case all cell phone use is prohibited while driving.

The law may not seem straightforward but the statistics for motor vehicle crashes involving distracted driving are. In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 18% of the total 5,474 fatalities in distraction-related crashes were because of cell phone use. There were 24,000 people injured (5%) in distracted driving crashes that reported cell phone being the reason for distraction. The 30-39 year-old age group had the highest percentage of fatal crashes involving a cell phone reported as the distraction.

The GHSA offers the following tips to avoid distraction:

-Refrain from activities like eating, drinking, reading, smoking while you are driving.

-If attention needs drawn to someone or something (pet or child) in the vehicle, pull over to a safe spot before addressing.

-Ask a passenger to help if you need help with a map or GPS system.

-Turn your cell phone off and create a message to inform those trying to reach you that you are driving and you will return their call once you have arrived at your destination.

With locations all over North and South Carolina including Spartanburg, Greenville, Charlotte, and Greensboro, the Law Offices of Lee & Smith can assist you with your case. If you have been seriously injured in a Carolina automobile accident, call toll free at 1-800-887-1965 for a free initial consultation.

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