Sign our HandsFreeSC support letter today!

Dear House Speaker M. Smith and Judiciary Chair B.W. Newton,

We, the undersigned, support H.3394 and S.157, both Hands Free bills in the South Carolina state legislature, that aim to enable safer streets, by most equitably* removing our ability to hold a phone while driving a motor vehicle in motion.  Tragedies from distracted driving are unacceptable to all families in South Carolina, including this one shared by Kelly Willenberg:

“It has been almost six years since my family experienced a preventable tragedy. We have all changed drastically since that day. The moment you realize that a person can look at a text on their phone and kill someone needlessly, your perspective changes.  That is was “distracted driving” does. Massive trauma, a broken jaw and pelvis, and a closed head injury took my husband’s life.  Why does my husband’s life not matter? Why is South Carolina one of the remaining states to not have handsfree legislation? Our state needs tougher laws on distracted drivers who do not honor hands free driving. It is the only answer, so I ask you to move this legislation forward.

"Take a moment and imagine what it feels like to see a loved one in neuro ICU. Contemplate donating their organs. That is what my family went through.  When it happens to you and your family, it might matter. My husband, Dale, was an experienced, safe bike rider. But that did not matter the day he was hit. My daughters lost their dad that day. My granddaughter and future grandchildren would never know their grandfather. Dale died in vain when the SC Senate and House will not pass this legislation that will save lives, and help curb insurance. South Carolina should be ashamed of its lack of disregard of what voters overwhelmingly want.

"Just pause for a moment and consider the last time you saw your son or daughter. You have not received a call that there has been an accident and a distracted driver was involved. Would you feel differently? I dare say you would."

A Hands Free law is one of many strategies South Carolina needs to seriously reduce our #1 traffic fatality rate.  A Hands Free law will save 10% of the average 1000 fatalities we see on our roads each year (Rudisill, 2018,;Rocco & Sampaio, 2016).  That's 100 people's lives and the impact to their families.  It's also 18 pedestrians and 2 bicyclists.  In addition, we would save $1.75 Million for each life saved, in real losses to individuals, families, and employers.  In South Carolina, that annually totals about $175,000,000, with additional losses from injuries and property damage - taking the grand total much higher (National Safety Council).

*The Police Betterment bill of 2022 enacted state standards and certification for local police officers, in order to improve public trust in South Carolina law enforcement. The PCC is committed to passing a Hands Free bill that does not incur undue harm to the same communities most impacted by distracted driving - who are also the least responsible for distracted driving.  PCC supported amendments to further improve S.157 and H.3394 for equitable implementation, and we continue these efforts today.

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Amy Johnson Ely

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