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What Could Happen If You Text and Drive?

Man using the phone while driving, texting and driving, distracted driving

Texting and Driving Laws & Statistics

Although South Carolina was one of the last states to ban texting and driving, that doesn’t mean police officers don’t strictly enforce the state’s texting and driving laws. As a refresher, the law makes it 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 South Carolina. The penalty for texting and driving in South Carolina is $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent violation. 

However, a person may use their phone behind the wheel under the following circumstances:

  • They are lawfully parked or stopped
  • They are using a hands-free wireless electronic communication device
  • They are summoning emergency assistance
  • They are transmitting or receiving data as part of a digital dispatch system
  • They are a public safety officer who is performing their duties
  • They are using a global positioning system (GPS) or an internal GPS feature or function of a cell phone to navigate or obtain related traffic and road condition information

With this in mind, you may ask yourself why it’s such a big deal to avoid texting and driving. What if you need to change the address in your GPS? What if you were in an emergency situation? These things happen, which is why the law allows people to text and drive in certain situations, such as in the examples above.

However, if the exemptions above DO NOT apply to you, it is in your best interests to avoid texting and driving. This is because texting while driving results in thousands of injuries and fatal crashes every year in the US, and not only that, but drivers are often arrested for vehicular manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and other serious crimes. This can be avoided by not using your phone while driving altogether.

To better understand the gravity of this occurrence, let’s take a look at the numbers. Below are some key statistics on texting and driving in the US:

  • In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in car crashes involving distracted drivers.
  • In 2014, 10% of all drivers aged 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crashes.
  • 10% of fatal crashes, 18% of injury crashes, and 16% of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2014 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
  • According to a 2015 State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company online survey, distracted driving behaviors that continued to increase since 2014 included using a hands-free device to talk on a cellphone, listening to and programming a navigation system/GPS, and accessing the Internet.
  • The percentage of drivers holding cell phones to their ears while driving decreased from 4.3 percent in 2014 to 3.8 percent in 2015, while the percentage of drivers visibly manipulating handheld devices while driving remained constant at 2.2 percent.
  • The percentage of drivers who were text messaging or visibly manipu­lating handheld devices increased from 1.7 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2015.
  • Distracted drivers were involved in the deaths of 520 nonoccupants during 2014.
  • Five seconds is the average time eyes are off the road while texting. That's enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded if you’re driving 55 mph.
  • Texting is the most alarming distraction because it involves manual, visual, and cognitive distractions simultaneously.
  • The youngest and most inexperienced drivers are most at risk of distracted driving dangers, with 16% of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers under 20 as of 2017.
  • At any given moment in the day, over 660,000 drivers are using a hand-held cell phone.
  • In 2017, 73% of drivers 18 to 20 years old admitted to texting while driving.

As you can see, texting while driving can result in preventable injuries and fatalities in addition to criminal charges. Injuring or killing someone while you’re texting and driving could warrant vehicular manslaughter charges, reckless endangerment charges, and more, which is why we advise you to put the phone down while driving. It can wait.

Caught up with criminal charges in Columbia? You are not alone. For powerhouse defense you can count on, contact us at (803) 938-4952!