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In South Carolina, Can You Text At a Red Light?

Young smiling woman driver using a smartphone in a modern luxury car

One of the most common causes of car accidents is distracted driving. This is why April has been designated Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And when it comes to distracted driving, texting drivers are responsible for causing many serious collisions.

Drivers who text often do so at many different times, putting everyone on the road at risk. However, a common scenario often involves drivers texting while stopped at a red light. Is that legal in South Carolina? Or are drivers prohibited from texting while driving, even if they’re stopped at a red light in South Carolina? Here's what you need to know.

How common are distracted driving accidents in South Carolina?

Each year, thousands of drivers in South Carolina cause collisions because they’re not paying attention while they’re driving. In fact, one traffic safety study conducted by USSA ranked South Carolina the third worst state in the country for distracted driving accidents.

According to the study, 16.5 percent of car accidents in South Carolina are caused by distracted drivers. The same study noted that distracted drivers in South Carolina caused 7,427 car accidents, resulting in 2,297 minor injuries, 70 serious injuries, and eight fatalities.

Can drivers text at a red light in South Carolina?

Now that we know that many drivers are distracted in South Carolina, you might wonder if those drivers you see texting at a red light are breaking the law. As long as the light is red and the car is stopped, no laws are being broken. According to South Carolina Highway Patrol master trooper Brandon Bolt, who was interviewed by The Sun News about this topic, it is perfectly legal to text at a red light in South Carolina.

However, in South Carolina, drivers are prohibited from texting the second the light turns green, or another vehicle starts moving. “We ask folks to limit their distractions,” Bolt added. “Your life isn’t worth risking over what’s going on that cell phone.”

What is South Carolina’s texting while driving law?

Since 2014, South Carolina has banned texting while driving. According to South Carolina law, Section 56-5-3890, drivers cannot “use a wireless electronic communication device to compose, send, or read a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle on the public streets and highways of this State.”

The only exceptions to South Carolina’s texting while driving law is if the driver is:

  • Parked in a vehicle.
  • Stopped at a red light or a stop sign.
  • Using a hands-free electronic device.
  • Looking up directions on a GPS.
  • Calling for emergency assistance.

Does South Carolina have any other distracted driving laws?

Currently, the only law in South Carolina involving distracted driving is the state’s texting while driving law. Otherwise, drivers can use a cell phone while driving, provided they are not reading or sending a text message.

This means drivers in South Carolina can use a cell phone to make a call while driving. Unlike some states, South Carolina drivers can make a call while holding their cell phone.

Why should I hire a distracted driving accident attorney after a crash?

Distracted driving accident claims in South Carolina often become complicated legal cases. Even if the other driver was texting when they caused your collision, don’t be surprised if the at-fault driver denies doing anything wrong. And even if they admit to causing your crash, their insurance company will likely do everything possible to pay you as little as possible—or nothing at all.

Our distracted driving accident lawyers at Johnson + Johnson, Attorneys At Law, know what’s at stake. That’s why we want to help. When you have our legal team on your side, you can be sure that we will work tirelessly on your behalf and fight for every dollar you deserve.

Get a South Carolina law firm that’s serious about winning your case. Contact us and schedule a free consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis. That means you only have to pay if we secure a financial settlement or verdict for you. Our office is located in Lexington, South Carolina, and we serve clients statewide.

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