Tuesday, April 15 2014 6:28 AM EDT2014-04-15 10:28:24 GMT
ESTILL COUNTY, KY (WAVE) – After losing both his parents in a short amount of time, a community is rallying around an Estill County teen. Joe Snowden lost his mother in a car crash on April 10, just twoMore >>
Joe Snowden lost his mother in a car crash on April 10, just two weeks after laying his father to rest. Now Snowden is faced with covering all the funeral costs himself. More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 9:27 AM EDT2014-04-16 13:27:29 GMT
Columbia Police have released several photos of an armed robbery at a Walmart on April 10th. Police say the robbery occurred at the Walmart on Garners Ferry Road just before 11 p.m. The clerk told investigatorsMore >>
Columbia Police have released several photos of an armed robbery at a Walmart on April 10th.More >>
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - WMBF News has discovered that South Carolina is among the very last states in the country to pass some kind of law concerning cell phone while driving. It's a distraction police will tell you injures and kills more people than drunk driving.
Yet, despite the toll it's taking on our youngest drivers, South Carolinians are free to talk and text away behind the wheel, putting everyone around you in danger. So why does South Carolina love being last?
Let's start with what happens to the average driver when a text message comes in, or they send a message out. On average, their eyes leave the road for 4 seconds. At highway speeds, that's 100 yards that a driver never sees the road. And what's really scary is that 50 percent of all drivers say they do this every day.
It took no time at all to find the dangers on our local roads. WMBF News caught up to a cab driver with a passenger in the car who rarely looked up as he traveled more than two miles up Highway 17.
"It's too common," says State Senator Luke Rankin. "It's too casual, and there's no sense of danger in doing it."
Senator Rankin has been pushing a bit harder over the last few years to get a texting and driving ban on the books. So far his efforts in Columbia have failed.
"When I first started in politics as well as when I started my law practice, alcohol was the big impairment," Sen. Rankin said. "Now cell phone usage is as great or greater an incidence of injury or fatality, overtaking alcohol."
Rankin calls the lack of action on the part of lawmakers an embarrassment.
"I really think it is," he said. "We are slow to embrace things that other states recognize. Georgia, North Carolina both have laws on the books that speak to that."
South Carolina has a noteworthy history when it comes to being last with public safety legislation. Lawmakers here tend to consistently put more value on individual liberties than on common good. We were among the last to pass a 55-mile-per-hour speed limit, require booster seats in cars for kids, seat belts for adults, and reduce alcohol limits for drunk drivers. As for cell phones and driving, we are just one state away from being the last there too.
State Representative, Nelson Hardwick will tell you most of these laws tend to pander to one group of drivers: "Yes, for idiots! How many laws do we pass to protect people from stupidity?" he said.
Hardwick supported the last texting law that came up for a vote in the house. It failed and convinced him it may not even be what his constituents want.
"I get more calls on trailer tags than I've ever gotten on texting in my district," says Hardwick, "if that tells you anything."
He's also not sure any such law is enforceable.
"We've got no tolerance for bullying, drinking, and everything else, and look at all the innocent people that get trapped with those laws: well-intended, but it's a life-changing experience," Hardwick said.
Myrtle Beach driver Fred Portway thinks any lawmaker not in favor of a cell phone driving law is just plain selfish.
"Twenty-two percent of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by idiots on a cell phone or texting," Portway said. "It is equivalent to driving drunk. The legislators, a lot of them know that."
Myrtle Beach Police Corporal Kevin Cast certainly knows that. He sees people injured and killed on the road every week. Most of them are on the phone, he said.
"It almost becomes like, you know, like an addiction," Cast said. As for enforcement, Cast says pass the law, and his officers will make it work.
"For the most part, you can pull up beside somebody and look right into their vehicle and you can see if they're on their phone," he said.
One of the drivers Cast pulled over for speeding one night was willing to admit that it was the phone that made him do it.
"I do know it's a distraction, and I think I try to fool myself into thinking that I'm better than that," said the driver. He went on to say he sends and receives text messages every time he gets behind the wheel.
It's not hard to find a family directly impacted by a driver distracted by a cell phone. Right in front of the Tanger Outlets on Highway 501, a truck driver slammed into the back of a car, killing a 4-year old girl and leaving a family wondering when the pain will end.
Miriam Bennett is a changed person. The loss of her daughter Jada has been crippling. Police say the driver of a semi was talking on the phone when he slammed into the back of their SUV.
"Why do they have to be driving and texting or getting on the phone?" asked Miriam Bennett. "Because it cannot just happen to me, it can happen to anybody."
Miriam is the mother of the four-year old girl, Jada, who was killed the crash. She is desperate for a cell phone law in South Carolina, and confused as to why we are among the last the adopt one.
"I thought that the United States was united. That's what it says in the pledge: United," Bennett said. "But South Carolina, why doesn't it have the same kind of law like any other state?"
Some lawmakers here believe this could be the year. In fact, Senator Rankin is hopeful such a law will pass during the second half of the current session.
There are no fewer than 10 bills ready for debate in the South Carolina House and Senate right now. Those bills that do everything from allowing homicide charges for killing someone on the road while using a cell phone, to making any distraction behind the wheel a primary offense.
If you look at laws across the country, you'll quickly see that not all texting and driving laws are the same. The fine in California if you're caught is just $20. However, text and drive in the state of Alaska and the maximum fine is $10,000 and up to a year in jail. Some states obviously take driving distractions more seriously than others. The proposed laws currently being looked at in South Carolina have fines ranging from $25 to $500.
Wednesday, April 16 2014 4:07 PM EDT2014-04-16 20:07:55 GMT
The director of the state's Social Services Department was grilled by a Senate subcommittee seeking answers for parents and child advocates who say the agency is mishandling child welfare cases. DirectorMore >>
The director of the state's Social Services Department was grilled by a Senate subcommittee seeking answers for parents and child advocates who say the agency is mishandling child welfare cases.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:11 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:11:55 GMT
Emmanuel Pressley (Source: Claflin University)
Claflin University junior politics and justice studies major Emmanuel Pressley has been on a journey since before he even matriculated to Claflin. He just didn't know quite where it was leading him. PressleyMore >>
Claflin University junior politics and justice studies major Emmanuel Pressley has been on a journey since before he even matriculated to Claflin. More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:52 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:52:37 GMT
National High School Player of the Year and Heathwood Hall senior A'ja Wilson has elected to play college basketball with the [team]. The televised announcement came shortly after 3:30 p.m. and ended monthsMore >>
National High School Player of the Year and Heathwood Hall senior A'ja Wilson has elected to play college basketball with the University of South Carolina.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:27 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:27:58 GMT
The battle continues in Chapin as Town Council continues to stay divided, even with another special meeting called for Thursday. Mayor Skip Wilson asked Town Clerk Adrienne Thompson on Tuesday to removeMore >>
The battle continues in Chapin as Town Council continues to stay divided, even with another special meeting called for Thursday. Mayor Skip Wilson asked Town Clerk Adrienne Thompson on Tuesday to remove all items from Thursday's agenda.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:25 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:25:05 GMT
Irmo police officers are seeking the assistance of the public to identify a man and a woman involved in an armed robbery Wednesday. A man and a woman entered a Check into Cash at 7949 Broad River Road,More >>
Irmo police officers need help in order to identify a man and a woman involved in an armed robbery Wednesday. More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 4:47 PM EDT2014-04-16 20:47:18 GMT
"Growing up a lot you hear 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but words never hurt.' But the truth is words can hurt," said Kayla Mallett, a parent."Bossy" is now being banned by some. The campaign,More >>
Words have meaning. Recently, a national campaign began to ban the word "bossy" because of its negative connotation. "Growing up a lot you hear 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but words never hurt.'More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:57 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:57:44 GMT
Columbia Police arrested a 23-year-old man after they say he was caught trying to climb through an unsecured window at a residence. Officers charged Daniel Jermalle Adams with second degree burglary. InvestigatorsMore >>
Columbia Police arrested a 23-year-old man after they say he was caught trying to climb through an unsecured window at a residence.More >>