Horry County lawmakers discuss texting and driving ban

It's law in 34 states, but it's still being debated in South Carolina.

A texting and driving ban bill died during the 2011 South Carolina legislative session, but according to lawmakers on both sides of the argument, a ban on texting and driving in our state is not as far away as you may think.

In a joint meeting, members of the Horry County Delegation, Horry County Council and Myrtle Beach City Council discussed issues concerning the area. Texting and driving was a hot topic.

"It's a resource that's legal," said State House Representative Thad Viers, (R) Horry County. "I don't think we should just outright ban it for the sake of banning it to make it feel good because some statistics say it's better if we ban it."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 16 percent of all deadly crashes are attributed to distracted driving, which includes texting while driving.

Viers is one of the legislators who voted against a texting and driving bill.

He explained why he continues to be against it to the members at the meeting.

"I'm sure some statistics say you shouldn't be able to drive until you're 21 years of age or older. but are we going to do that. I just think there is too many other priorities in state and federal government right now that we need not to even be looking at this time. Our budget for one, the way we spend our money two."

"The issue is still there and still a problem," said State House Representative Nelson Hardwick, (R) Surfside. He wants a ban.

"In texting you cut off the outside visual coming in, and in a lot of cases people are more severely impaired by texting than they are by drinking."

One of the reasons Viers said he's against the ban is because it would be difficult for police to enforce.

"You can't make a law like that and expect police to enforce it," said Viers. "I believe police should be worried about people speeding, driving wrecklessly and for DUI, not texting."

Hardwick admits enforcing the ban would mean giving up certain rights.

"The only way to convict someone is to physically take the phone or what they're using to text and utilize it against them for a conviction. How else would you do that?"

Viers does believe a texting and driving ban would pass if it's written to apply only to minors.

The federal government says in 2009 the greatest number of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group.