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SC State Representative introduces DUI-E bill increasing penalties for distracted driving

SOUTH CAROLINA (WJBF) - In South Carolina, several bills have been pre-filed including one meant to make you safer on the roads if you're using your phone while driving.

"We don't have the right, as citizens to drive down the road and kill other people by looking at the phone, driving down the road," State Representative Bill Taylor told NewsChannel 6's Shawn Cabbagestalk. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016, 3,450 people were killed due to distracted driving.

"This thing right here has become our overlord. It has taken control over everything," Representative Taylor said while holding a cell phone.

The lawmaker from Aiken, South Carolina is leading the effort to place a hands-free law on the books in the Palmetto State.

He says that drivers in South Carolina should be informed that there are alternative ways to use their mobile devices. 

"You can take a swipe, you can talk on it, you can answer a phone call. If you're actually brave enough to dictate a message without looking at it, good luck with that but you can do that, too," he shared.

He introduced Driving Under the Influence of an Electronic Device bill at the Statehouse that would make it illegal for drivers to hold a phone, call, text, email or watch a video while driving.  It would also make it illegal to reach for a phone in an unsafe way. The pre-filed bill says you can use your phone using a headset or other hands-free means while your vehicle is operating on the roads. The law would not apply if you're an emergency official, using your phone to call 911, or using GPS.

"Here's the problem, they are worst than drunk drivers. Drunk drivers that are impaired at least are holding on to the wheel and looking down the road, trying to get home or to the next bar. But the fact is, people who are driving looking at their phone is driving blind. they are not seeing anything," Representative Taylor revealed.

The penalty under his proposed bill, a $25 fine.

"I actually want the legislators involved with their constitutes to help craft the right appropriate penalties," he stated. 

Representative Taylor filed a similar distracted driving bill last year. Following hearings and endorsements, it didn't make it much farther.

"In South Carolina, we have a good opportunity with this hands-free bill, it's very similar to Georgians. They had more success than I did," he shared. "We need to pass this bill and put it into law so people will drive more safely and put the phone down."


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