By John Boyanoski  

FEBRUARY 4, 2010 10:23 a.m. Comments (1)

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A House subcommittee cleared a bill late Wednesday that would make driving a car while talking on a cell phone or texting away a fineable offense in South Carolina.

State Rep. Don Smith, R-Aiken, said the proposed bill will next go to the full education and highways committee, but could not say when. The Legislature is not in session next week, but state Rep. Phil Owens, R-Pickens, said he plans to bring it up in two weeks. Like Smith, Owens is a main co-sponsor of the bill.

The bill would penalize offenders $100 and add two points to their license if they are caught texting or dialing unless they are in a tow truck heading to a wreck, calling in an illegal activity, calling for medical help or trying to prevent an injury to a person or property.

In addition, the bill would ban cell phone use by school bus drivers and place stickers in the buses that would encourage students to report offenders.

Use of hands-free cell phones would be allowed under the current proposed bill. A similar bill died in committee last January. The reason it failed was lawmakers said it would be too difficult to enforce.

Lanny Littlejohn, R-Spartanburg, Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, and James Harrison, R-Richland, are co-sponsors.

State Rep. Jim Stewart, R-Aiken, proposed during Wednesday’s hearing to take out the ban on cell phones and just focus on texting, but his amendment was voted down, Smith said. Smith and Stewart share an office.

“We’re friends, but we just have different thoughts on this,” Smith said.

.It is estimated that six percent of all vehicle crashes in South Carolina are directly related to someone talking on their cell phone or trying to text someone else, according to a Journal analysis of state and local records.

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Add New
Krystal Kid   |2010-02-04 10:41:31
80% percent of all rear end collisions (the most frequent vehicle accident) are
caused by driver inattention, following too closely, external distraction
(talking on cell phones, shaving, applying makeup, fiddling with the radio or CD
player, texting, etc.) and poor judgment. I doubt if we'll ever stop the
madness so I got one of these to protect my family.
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