Distracted driving is one of the biggest menaces on the roads of the United States in the 21st Century.
While the number of deaths attributable to drunken driving has fallen consistently since the 1980s, the arrival of smart phones and other technology, has made distracted driving a more serious issue.
The problem and potential solutions were discussed last month at a conference in Richmond, Virginia. The 2014 Virginia Distracted Driving Summit was held on Sept. 15 and 16. It was organized by the nonprofit group Drive Smart Virginia and focused on education, enforcement, corporate policies and distracted driving research.
Distracted driving is a menace, with teens most likely to be using smart phones at the wheel.
The most recent figures available from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found in 2012 about 421,000 people were injured in car crashes involving a distracted driver in the United States. That was a 9 percent increase from the 387,000 a year earlier—an increase of 34,000 injuries. In both years about 3,300 people died either driving distracted or from a crash involving a distracted driver. The real death and injury toll is likely to be considerably higher according to experts.
Most states have responded to the increase in accidents due to distracted driving by passing new laws. South Carolina was one of the last states to implement a ban on texting at the wheel.
Gov. Nikki Haley signed a statewide texting-while-driving ban into law in June 2014, putting an end to a patchwork of local texting bans enacted by municipal governments across South Carolina, Charleston City Paper reported.
The new law says it is "unlawful for a person to use a wireless electronic communication device to compose, send, or read a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle on the public streets and highways of this State."
For purposes of the law, "text-based communication" includes text messaging, instant messaging, and e-mailing.
Legislators resisted telling people what they could do behind the wheel for many years in South Carolina. But they said the increasing number of local ordinances caused too much confusion.
The law still allows people to text if they are legally stopped or using a hands-free device. It also specifically allows using GPS navigation. A violation is not a crime and the maximum fine is $50.
If you have been hurt by a distracted driver, you may have grounds to make a claim for your injures against that driver's insurance policy. A Columbia car accident injury attorney can help you maximize your recovery. Call Masella Law at 803.748.9990.