SC lawmakers weigh in on cell phone rules

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) The National Transportation Safety Board does not have any regulatory or legislative authority, but board members are calling on state lawmakers to take action.

South Carolina lawmakers say the topic of using electronics behind the wheel will probably be a major topic when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

Senator Dick Elliott said, "I think we should assume the responsibility and address the safety of people on highways in a fashion best suited for SC." Senator Elliott said he does not expect lawmakers to eliminate all cell phone usage including hands-free devices.

Elliott said, "I would expect the general assembly in the coming year to address and eliminate texting while driving on state highways." Elliott said most people recognize the need for some type of legislation, but that could take different forms.

Local law enforcement officers say they support policies to get drivers' focus back on the road. Captain David Knipes with the Myrtle Beach Police Department said, "We want to cut down on the number of accidents and our officers should be out there doing other things besides responding to wrecks and writing tickets all day."

Knipes added that right now it is hard to say what it would be like to enforce any type of new regulation. "Is it going to ban all phone calls or everything but 911 emergency phone calls? Just can't tell at this point but driving while talking on the phone is an issue anywhere you go."

Senator Elliott said enforcement could be a key factor when it comes to getting legislation passed. Elliott said, "Policing would be terribly difficult. We understand that and that would be part of the reason why there is debate on this because in order to make a law fair and workable it has to be enforceable."

Myrtle Beach Police officers say they see people swerving on the road mostly due to cell phone usage, and officers say they pull people over for careless operation of their vehicle.

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