Texting while driving in Columbia could cost you

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The next time you're driving, pressing a few buttons on your cell phone could cost you. The price would be $100, and that's not including court costs and processing fees.

With a unanimous vote, Columbia City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday night banning texting while driving. It's now against the law to compose a text message or send an e-mail while driving in the City of Columbia. It includes tweeting and posting a message on Facebook too. "We think that passing a law that ensures that our drivers focus solely on driving as opposed to other distractions is positive for our community," said Columbia City Councilman Brian Newman.

But there are still a number of things you can do with your cell phone while driving. You're still allowed to use GPS on your phones. "That's correct," said Newman.

When asked if he knew that you could still search for contacts on your cell phone, driver Jody Hamm replied, "I didn't know all the particulars of it."

"You can still call if you want to while driving - even though that's not what we prefer that you do," said Newman, "But nevertheless, you can still do that."

There are a few instances where you can text and send an email while in your car, such as if you're fully stopped at a traffic light or parked.

Most drivers we spoke with saw the texting ban as a small victory. "All of those will still cause problems, but getting rid of texting is a beginning," said Hamm.

Hamm said he hopes more will be done to keep our roads safe. "I'd like to think if you could do a hands-free phone," said Hamm, "But if you have to use your hands, you shouldn't be doing it."

There was one question that remained: will people follow the ban? Driver Shaunda Jones said it's a conscious choice. "You have to decide whether it's worth risking your life or someone else's life," she said.

It had Jones changing her ways. "I am guilty of doing it, and I know I am wrong doing it," said Jones, "So, I'm going to stop doing it as well."

Most of the drivers we spoke with were wondering if this ban would eventually lead to a ban on cell phones in cars all together. Councilman Newman said there's been no discussions at city council on that. But he did say that they're prepared to look at any law that promotes public safety.

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