It’s far too simplistic to say that South Carolina’s roads are among the nation’s deadliest because we are one of just five states with absolutely no limits on drivers sending and receiving text messages. After all, our roads were among the nation’s deadliest long before anyone had ever heard of texting.
But as long as we do have some of the nation’s deadliest highways – only Montana has more deaths per vehicle mile traveled – it’s not simplistic to say we need to do something to make our roads safer.
The most important thing we can do is step up enforcement, since our biggest dangers are people driving too fast, refusing to yield and driving after drinking too much – all of which are illegal.
The most efficient thing we can do is outlaw practices that anyone with even a modicum of sense can see are insanely dangerous. Topping that list: sending and receiving text messages while driving.
Do other activities also distract drivers’ attention?
We can debate how dangerous it is to talk on a cell phone while driving, whether experienced drivers are able to compensate for the distraction and whether that should be banned. But you simply cannot argue that it’s safe to take your eyes off the road long enough to compose or read a message – no matter how brief – on a tiny screen. That you’re addicted to.
Besides the “don’t ban texting unless you ban babies in the car” argument, critics like to call a texting ban a “big government” intrusion into people’s lives. Yes, people really do say things that idiotic. By that logic, speed limits are a “big government” intrusion. And laws that ban driving through red lights. And any highway law. Because texting while driving does the same thing as driving too fast and driving through stop lights: It endangers the driver, the passengers and everyone else on the road.
Fortunately, there’s a simple way to get around “big government” intrusion into your text life: Don’t do it while driving on the “big government” roads.
And there’s a simple way our Legislature can make our highways safer: Outlaw texting while driving.