Last year, several state legislators unsuccessfully tried to pass a bill that would have prohibited texting on cell phones while driving. This year, at least one senator wants to take it a step further.
Sen. Larry Martin (R-Pickens) says there are other types of distractions besides texting.
The normal, everyday, routine things that people do, sometimes they attempt to do while driving an automobile. Whether it be tying their shoe, changing their clothes, combing their hair, putting on makeup, (they’re) doing all kinds of things that, obviously, can produce evidence of distracted driving.
Martin has prefiled a bill for the upcoming session that would make it illegal to drive “carelessly” as a result of being distracted by anything from cell phones to pets. He says banning specific acts while driving would put a “burden” on law enforcement. Instead, he wants to target the effects of driving distractedly.
Martin says he hopes the bill will get broader support from legislators than the failed texting ban last session, as he says it does not ban anything, but instead punishes people for driving recklessly.
Some of the language in the bill is sure to invite debate, however. For example, one definition of “distracted” consists of “interaction with passengers.” Martin explained what that means.
It could be a romantic type thing-somebody attempting to kiss a passenger in the automobile. Or it could be somebody attempting to reach and grab someone in the back seat while driving.
He adds it’s important to note that any enforcement would require an officer to give evidence of the “distraction.”
The law also defines “driving carelessly” as “operating a vehicle without care and caution and without full regard for safety of persons and property.”
The bill classifies such a violation as a misdemeanor and would fine the driver $50.
Martin says, if the bill passes, he hopes it will result in people driving more carefully.
It would encourage folks to not engage in activity such as texting (or) talking on a cell phone in a distracted manner.
To be clear, the bill would not make texting, using a cell phone, or any other act while driving illegal. Instead, it would define as a misdemeanor any careless driving done as a result of being distracted by them.
You can view the complete bill here.