Costs of texting and driving in South Carolina

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) -  Every time you get behind the wheel, you put your life in your hands. The minute you take your hands off the wheel to send a text, you increase your risk of getting in a crash, by three times.

A ban against texting and driving is one step away from becoming law in South Carolina, to make roads more safe.

"Nobody would think about having a computer screen in front of their face and not seeing out the windshield for four seconds but to look at that little phone and try to type something, they don't think twice about it," says owner of the Safe Driving School Mike Doneff.

The numbers prove, distracted driving is an issue across our state. This year, already, highway patrol responded to 5,593 accidents caused by distracted driving.

Last year, 48 people died from distractions on the road, texting included.  This year, already, we've reached almost half that number with 22 lives lost.

Drivers education instructors hit our roads every single day and say they would love the idea of a texting ban.

"We're dealing with the tourists who don't know where they're going and we're dealing with the college kids who really don't know where they're going and sometimes think that phone is more important," says Doneff.

If Governor Nikki Haley signs off on the bill, it would keep you from being able to text and drive. Under the ban, you can still text if you're fully parked, that includes if you're stopped at a red light or stop sign. You would also be able to use your GPS device or text in an emergency situation.

Senator Luke Rankin says this won't just apply to young drivers but all drivers in the state.

During the first 180 days after the law goes into effect you'll get a warning from police before a ticket. Under the ban, if you get caught texting while driving, it's a $25-dollar fine.

Police would not be able to take your cell phone or look at it to figure out if you were texting and that has some people worried this law could be tough to enforce.

When it comes to texting and driving, South Carolina lawmakers are ready to catch up with the rest of the country. 48 states already have a texting ban in place, we could become 49. Montana is the only other state without a texting while driving law.