Transportation, public safety agencies ban texting in state vehicles

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - The departments of transportation and public safety announced Thursday that employees of both agencies would no longer be allowed to send or read text messages while operating a state-owned vehicle.

The ban on texting-while-driving for state employees was effective immediately.

The new ban reflects an effort by both departments to improve highway safety through reducing distractions for the driver. "Our top priority at SCDOT is making our highways safer through engineering. However, our employees must contribute to their own safety and the protection of other drivers by giving full attention to their driving while on the job," said Transportation Secretary H.B. "Buck" Limehouse.

Department of Public Safety Director Mark Keel said the bean is an important step in reducing the rising numbers of crashes and deaths on South Carolina roads related to texting.

"Our Highway Patrol troopers have seen the tragic results of what can happen when a driver is texting. I support this ban for our employees because SCDPS and SCDOT have an obligation to take the lead in cutting down on driver distractions and making our highways safer in all aspects," he said.

Both agencies have offices and employees who work in all 46 counties of the state.

A similar measure aimed at anyone on South Carolina roads stalled in a House Education subcommittee Wednesday. That bill would ban anyone driving on South Carolina roads from texting or talking on a mobile phone unless a hands-free unit is being used.

©2010 WCSC. All rights reserved.