The Clemson City Council on Monday unanimously approved an ordinance making it illegal to text while driving in city limits. The ordinance that will be enforced beginning June 1 , 2010 makes it illegal to send text messages, to read text messages or printed material or to e-mail while driving.
Clemson Police Chief Jimmy Dixon cites studies and research that has been done concerning texting, emailing and phone usage in general while operating a vehicle. He says that a lot of these studies have shown that “if you are texting, while in a moving vehicle and operating that vehicle, that you are as likely or twice as likely to be involved in a vehicle collision as someone who is twice the legal limit of driving under the influence.”
(Chief Jimmy Dixon on new texting ban, MP3 3:14)
Chief Jimmy Dixon MP3 3:14
Violators could face a fine of $100. Dixon says educating the citizens and visitors will be a large part of enforcing the new law. “It will not take affect until June the 1st of this year. That’s going to give us some time to educate our citizens and educate the people that come in and out of Clemson as to the legality of texting or emailing while you’re in a vehicle in motion in the city. And so, that’s going to be a big part, the educational component of this ordinance.”
When the ordinance faced its first reading on Feb. 1, Mayor Larry Abernathy acknowledged the state-level proposals and said the city’s passage of a ban, believed to be the first of its kind for a city in South Carolina, would send a message of support to the legislature.
Chief Dixon says that Clemson officials acted with the knowledge that a proposed statewide ban now being considered in the legislature would trump the city ordinance. “If they pass that one, is more than likely,what will happen is the ordinance for the City of Clemson would be repealed and naturally we would enforce the state ordinance.”