This Labor Day weekend, chances are, many South Carolinians on the road will be texting while driving. Problem is, texting while driving could be just as dangerous as drunken driving . As strong of a claim as that is, Sid Gaulden with the South Carolina Department of Public Safety says when someone is texting, they have to look away from the road, which could result in a fatality.
“You’re driving a vehicle, you have to focus on driving that vehicle. You have to maintain the safety of your vehicle, you have to watch out for other people, you can’t do that if you’re searching for a ‘x,’ ‘r,’ or ‘s,’ or ‘t’ on your cell phone,” says Gaulden.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) currently has a new policy that encourages all states to ban texting while driving. GHSA Chairman Vernon Betkey Jr. says “texting while driving is indisputably a distraction and a serious highway safety problem. If every state passes a texting ban, it will send a message to the public that this dangerous practice is unacceptable.”
Gaulden says there is a main point he wants to get across to the entire state.
“Highway safety, both hands on the wheel, paying attention to what you are doing behind that wheel. You’re driving that vehicle, you’re concerned about your safety, the safety of the people in the car or truck with you, and you’re concerned about the safety of the people in the other vehicles around you. You can’t be distracted when you’re doing something as critical as driving a car or a truck,” says Gaulden.
A recent study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that a driver who is texting increases crash or near-risk crash by 23 times.
Gaulden says where South Carolina stands compared to the rest of the nation: “Last year in the South Carolina General Assembly there were several attempts to limit, if not, outright ban the use of cell phones, other than hand-free cell phones. I know on the national level, as a result of the Virginia Tech study, legislators in Washington are looking into federal legislation that would block texting, but I don’t know of anything yet in South Carolina that outlaws it,” says Gaulden.