Readers say $25 fine not enough of a deterrent of texting while driving

Staff Report
Published June 19, 2013

About 82% of the 74 readers who responded in an online poll indicated they are in favor of the recently approved statewide ban on texting and reading or writing email while driving.

Of 110 respondents who answered a question about whether they have sent a text message while driving, about 63% said they have.

The Charleston Regional Business Journal conducted the three-day online survey to take an unscientific snapshot of readers’ opinions after Gov. Nikki Haley and the General Assembly enacted the ban on texting while driving. The city of Charleston and town of Mount Pleasant had passed bans on texting while driving in the past year as well.

Texting and drivingThe new law instills a $25 fine for a first-offense penalty. This makes South Carolina one of the most lenient among states that have such a ban, according to a database from the Governors Highway Safety Association.

An overwhelming majority of respondents, around 92% of 100 readers, said the penalty is not enough to dissuade drivers from texting or using their phones — aside from talking — while driving.

Of other possible penalties, a majority of respondents said a higher fine or license points would serve as a better deterrent.

A number of readers responding to the poll, which was highlighted in the Daily Journal digital publication, explained whether they agreed, as well as what penalties would be effective. Some of the comments are included below, with complete comments at the end of this report:

“You are putting more power into the officer’s hands and not sure they can properly enforce this. Don’t agree with this. What’s next, banning sandwich eating during driving? The whole idea is distraction. Mandate that cell phone companies disable texting when moving at higher speeds (like a blackout). That will stop texting while driving.”

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“Yes, this is a dangerous law, and will likely cause an increase in accidents due to texting while driving. All the studies suggest that laws like these merely cause people to hide their texting, and therefore leads to more accidents.”

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“Points for second offense in addition to a higher fine.”

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“This is a no brainer. How many deaths/accidents will it take to end this madness. Of course, I also see folks shaving and putting on lipstick.”

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“$25 -- first offense $50 second offense $289 third offense $500 fourth and loose license for 1 month”

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“You can't legislate common sense.”

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“The penality must be strong enough to deter the behavior. It’s a fact that texting, etc. and driving causes accidents and deaths. Why play around the issue. PUT SOME TEETH IN THE LAW!”

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“This is a weak, worthless law as written, when compared to other states.”

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“Driving while texting and reading text is just as dangerous as drinking and driving.”

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“Keep the government out of my business.”

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“As one who commutes by bicycle, I can tell you that texting while driving is by far the most serious danger I face on the road. They might be able to see other cars with their peripheral vision while texting but they often don’t see bicycles. I’ve had many near misses.”

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