MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Every day, according to the CDC, nine people die because of a distracted driver in the United States. More states are cracking down on texting while driving, including South Carolina. While a ban was passed earlier this year, the warning period is now over.
It will cost you $25 if an officer sees you texting while behind the wheel. For months, officers have handed out warning tickets to drivers to make them aware of the new law. According to South Carolina Highway Patrol, law enforcement issued 278 warnings for texting and driving.
With the fine, there is no impact on your insurance or points added to your license, which is why many driving instructors would like to see a stricter law.
"I think it's a good first step, but everything needs to be modified. I think $25 is nothing, that's like going to McDonald's with your family," said Mark Conley, the owner of Beach Driving School, LLC.
As a driving instructor, Conley pointed out there are already distractions that are part of driving: taking your eyes off the road, taking your hands off the wheel, and taking your mind off of driving.
"You don't need to add any more distractions by texting," he said.
More importantly than making you pay up, this new law is to make sure you distracted driving doesn't cost you your life.
According to data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, 46 people have been killed on South Carolina roads already this year because of a collision involving a distracted driver.
Nearly half of the collisions where a driver was texting resulted in injuries.
Local law enforcement believes it is perfect timing to kick off the enforcement. As Sgt. Allen with the Myrtle Beach Police Traffic Division pointed out, there will be more people driving during the holidays. He wants to make sure they get home safely.
"To put down a few sentences while texting can take 10-15 seconds. That is time you will never get back," said Sgt. Allen.
Instructors and officers hope this law will lead to an overall ban on cell phone use in the future.
In an investigation earlier this year, we learned that the new law could cost you much more than the $25 fine. Because the law defines texting while driving as an illegal act, severe civil penalties could be brought against those who cause injury or death.