Town supports ban on texting while driving

  • Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Summerville has plans to publically support a statewide texting-while-driving ban.

The Town Public Safety Committee voted 2-1, with Town Councilman Terry Jenkins absent, to send a letter to the General Assembly expressing support for a South Carolina law illegalizing texting while driving.

Town Council has to approve the recommendation at its meeting Wednesday before the letter will be sent.

The letter is an alternative to adopting an ordinance banning texting while driving, which was the original proposal on the committee agenda.

Councilwoman Kima Garten-Schmidt brought the issue to the committee.

“I know in the General Assembly it takes longer to get something passed, but we can do something in a shorter amount of time. Why wait another year for the state to pass it?” she said.

The councilwoman said the ordinance would “show people this is an issue.”

“If we can save even one life, it’s worth it,” she said.

While all of the councilmembers present expressed support of the idea, they didn’t all agree adopting an ordinance would be appropriate.

Councilman Walter Bailey had concerns the ordinance wouldn’t be enforceable and would contradict any future state law the General Assembly may pass.

Summerville Police Chief Bruce Owens, who was in attendance, said he agreed that enforcement may be an issue. He mentioned the existing inattentive driving citation, which can mean fines up to $1,082.

Councilman Aaron Brown suggested sending a letter of support, which the committee eventually agreed upon.

“Let’s become a part of the solution,” he said.

The committee agreed if the General Assembly does not pass a texting-while-driving ban this legislative session (which ends in June) they will reconsider passing a law locally.

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