Summerville no longer pursuing own ban on texting while driving

SUMMERVILLE, SC - In Summerville a ban on texting while driving is no longer on the table.

Councilwoman Kima Garten-Schmidt says Wednesday afternoon the public safety committee decided to instead ask town council to send a resolution to the state legislature, urging them to pass a statewide ban.

Garten-Schmidt says if the state doesn't pass a ban by this summer; the town will again revisit the idea of passing their own.

"There's actually about half of the states in the U.S. already has some type of texting ban. South Carolina really needs to jump on the bandwagon. If it's going to save at least one child's life, it's worth it," said Garten-Schmidt.

Garten-Schmidt says the town already has a distracted driving law on the books and the fine can be up to $1,000.

Next week council will begin letting the community know that the law will be enforced.

According to the State Department of Public Safety, an accident caused by cell phone use or texting is hard for an officer to assign. Usually a driver has to confess they were distracted by the phone or it has to be clear to the officer that using the phone caused the wreck.

Most of Summerville is in Dorchester and Berkeley Counties.

From 2011 to 2013 the state department says there were 53 crashes in Berkeley County because of cell phone use and 4 because of texting.

In Dorchester County 35 happened because the driver was using the cell phone and texting caused 12 accidents.

Records from the State Department of Public Safety show in Dorchester County from 2011 to 2013, 1,208 crashes happened because the driver was distracted and 3 people died as a result.

The state department also reported in Berkeley County there were 1,267 accidents caused by distracted driving and those wrecks caused 4 deaths.

According to the Mount Pleasant Police Department, one person has been ticketed for texting while driving. The fine is $158.75 and if a collision is involved, the fine is $470.00.

The Charleston Police Department is reporting two people got citations for unlawful use of a handheld electronic communication device for $150 each.

Both cities passed texting bans late last year.

Copyright WCSC 2014. All rights reserved.