A bill that would ban texting as well as hand-held cell phone usage while driving has passed a full committee of the South Carolina House.
An effort to separate the cell phone part of the bill failed on a 4-7 vote.
Union Representative Mike Anthony was one of those opposed to barring cell phones. He said that holding a hamburger while driving is also dangerous. Anthony says drivers often make the mistake of allowing distractions like putting on makeup to interfere with driving and he does not think there is good reason to ban hand-held cell phone usage.
A similar bill in the Senate would ban texting only.
The House legislation also prohibits school bus drivers from texting, except in the case of an emergency when the bus is stopped.
Representative Don Smith quoted a university study, saying that texting while driving increases the likelihood of an accident by 23 times, and that using a handheld phone more than doubles the risk of an accident.
Pickens County Representative B. R. Skelton favored the ban on hand-held cell phones as well. Dr. Skelton says he believes that the hands-free device makes cell phone use safer.
(Skelton on cell phones MP3 :36)
Skelton on cell phones MP3 :34
But research by University of South Carolina Professor Almit Almor asserts that the current hands-free devices don’t reduce risk considerably. Almore, a research psychologist who recommends a ban on texting while driving but not on hand-held phones, asserts that it’s the brain’s focus on a telephone conversation which is distracting, not holding a phone.