Beaufort bans texting and driving

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To protect drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians and property owners, the City of Beaufort outlaws texting and emailing while driving. Also, people under age 18 cannot text or use a cell phone while driving. Enforcement begins Nov. 10, 2012.
“This is about safety and this is about saving lives and preventing injuries. It’s not about writing tickets and taking people to court,” Beaufort Police Chief Matt Clancy said. “Texting while driving is suicidal, and I’m not sure most people should be talking on the phone while they’re driving a two-ton vehicle.
“Our goal is to inform and to educate. Texting and driving don’t go together. ‘Get the message: Don’t text and drive’ is our motto,” Clancy said.
Beaufort’s anti-texting ordinance resulted from concerns expressed by City Councilman George O’Kelley and studies of South Carolina laws and those in other states that addressed the dangers of texting while driving. After legal review, the City Council approved the new law to take effect this month.
Why is texting and driving dangerous? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Pew Research Center’s Pew Internet & American Life Project:
1. 45 percent of U.S. adults owned a smartphone as of September 2012, and 66 percent of people ages 1829 own smartphones.
2. In 2010, 3,092 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and another 416,000 were injured in car and truck crashes involving a distracted driver. This includes texting, emailing, talking on the phone, changing radio channels or CDs, and other activities in the vehicle that distract the driver’s attention.
3. Eleven percent of all drivers under age 21 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
4. In June 2011 there were more than 196 billion text messages sent or received in the U.S., almost double from June 2009.
5. Young adults (ages 18-24) exchange 109.5 messages each day, per person.
6. 18 percent of injury crashes in 2010 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
7. 40 percent of all teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.
8. Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
For more information, visit www.distraction.gov.