This year your child turns 15. Your nerves begin to pound as you realize the child you still consider your baby is about to get behind the wheel of a car for the first time. How are you going to live through this?
Your novice driver will take to the road with other drivers who may not seem to pay attention to what they are doing. The best chance for your child to avoid collisions and injuries may be to understand the ramifications of distracted driving. The statistics and laws of South Carolina may give him or her an idea of the importance of safe driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving contributed to almost 3,200 deaths in the United States in 2017. In the same year, the administration reported that distracted driving was the cause of 8% of drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states that more than half of teenage drivers use a cellphone while driving; 1 in 4 texts and send messages while driving.
Each year, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety publishes the South Carolina Traffic Collision Fact Book. For 2017, the report showed almost 10,000 collisions caused by distracted driving. Close to 3,500 people suffered injuries. Of those, eight people died.
South Carolina does not have a handheld or cellphone ban. However, all drivers cannot text while driving. The South Carolina Hands-Free Act, Senate Bill 723, is currently in the early stages of debate. The law would prohibit drivers from holding their phones or other electronic devices while driving. The penalty for breaking this law would incur a $100 fine. It would also come with a two-point violation on the person’s driver’s license.
Distracted driving includes not only cellphone use. Eating, putting on makeup or rubbernecking may cause as many accidents as texting. Talking with friends or family in the car may also contribute to accidents when the driver is not paying attention to the road or other drivers.