Mount Pleasant Council considers handheld device ban while driving

By Stacy

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- Tim Tracy was driving home in April when his phone went off, he said. He looked down quickly to check the text. That second was enough to end his trip home.

"I veered off to the side and then I overcorrected," he said.

No one was injured but he totaled his car, Tracy said. He was lucky. He knew it could have been even worse.

"I could've gotten really hurt. If someone had been in the car they would've gotten hurt. It could've been really bad," he said.

South Carolina is one of three states that still hasn't enacted a ban on texting or using a handheld device while driving. Now, Mount Pleasant Town Council is considering a ban that would make Tracy's actions illegal.

It would ban any cellphone use in the car while driving.

"I think it's a really good idea, especially for kids who have cars and are constantly keeping in touch with their friends. Social media networking is so big right now," Jessica McDevitt said.

ABCNews4 spoke with about 15 people around Mount Pleasant Thursday. None disagreed with McDevitt. But Mount Pleasant councilman Kenneth Glasson did. He said he would not vote for the ordinance because he thought the state should handle it.

"Is it okay to text in Awendaw but not in Mount Pleasant? And then what happens inside the donut holes? Can we not reinforce or enforce it there?" Glasson asked.

Councilman Chris Nickels also disagreed with passing the ordinance. He thought public education was a better tool and that the town already had laws to handle it.

"Careless driving and reckless driving are laws," he said.

Both also did not think the ordinance would be enforceable. But at the town council meeting this week, Police Chief Carl Ritchie explained how officers would do that.

"With the hands free [ordinance,] it would give us the option to make that stop because the ordinance doesn't allow you to manipulate any type of handheld device while driving," he said.

Even so, Tracy wasn't sure any law would've kept him from making his mistake. He said it took his near miss to get him to stop.

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