Mount Pleasant moves forward on cellphones-and-driving ban

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- Drivers who try to sneak in a quick text or type directions in their phones while driving may be fined soon in Mount Pleasant. The Mount Pleasant Town Council is one step closer to banning mobile devices while driving after a vote Monday morning. The proposed ban would carry a $50 for drivers caught using their cellphones while driving. "There's too many accidents, too many people that hold up traffic and it's just bad for everybody," said Dan Eicher, who supports the ban on cellphones. The ban means no texting, no calling, no searching for directions when people are behind the wheel of a car. "The ordinance will read 'no handheld devices while you're driving,'" said Thomasena Stokes-Marshall, the town's mayor pro tempore. For drivers caught using their phones, they face a $50 fine for the first offense. For people using a handheld device at the time of an accident, they face an additional $200 fine. Bluetooth or hands free devices are still acceptable, but many people have GPS units in their cars now. As long as it's sitting on a dashboard. "If they have a means to utilize their electronic devices without holding them in their hands, then I don't think that should be a problem," Stokes-Marshall said. The proposed ban follows a national trend. Just this spring the U.S. Department of Transportation released a study showing that every minute 660,000 Americans are using their handheld devices while driving. In 2011 alone, more than 3,000 people were killed in accidents involving a distracted driver. "Once you're on the road and behind the wheel, you have a responsibility like everyone else to be mindful and provide a safe environment when it comes to driving," said Stokes-Marshall. If the ordinance passes town council, Mount Pleasant officials hope to institute the policy by the end of the year.