South Carolina bills focus on speeding, lane use, safety

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, December 13, 2013

South Carolina lawmakers are getting a jump on the upcoming regular session by prefiling bills on issues that are important to them. Among the issues getting attention are bills intended to improve safety on the state’s roadways.

One bill covers certain people working along or near roadways. Sponsored by Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, S829 would double fines for speeding violations that occur in areas where highway maintenance, construction or sanitation workers are present.

Speeding up to 10 mph over the posted limit could result in $50 fines – up from a maximum of $25. Driving as much as 15 mph over the posted speed limit could result in fines up to $100, instead of the current maximum fine of $50. Violators driving up to 25 mph over the posted limit would face $150 fines – up from $75.

Rep. Josh Putnam, R-Greenville, filed another bill that is intended to combat aggressive driving on the state’s major highways. Drivers of all vehicles would be prohibited drivers from lingering in the left lane of interstates.

H4391 specifies that anyone driving in the left lane 5 mph below the posted speed limit would be in violation. Left-lane use would only be permitted for passing other vehicles.

Violators would have two points added to their drivers’ license.

The rule would not apply when there are no other vehicles in the left lane. Also, drivers would be exempt if they are in the left lane to turn or exit, or if traffic doesn’t allow them to merge back to the right.

Cellphone use while traveling in the far-left lane would also be forbidden. Fines would be $25.

A separate bill is intended to benefit truckers and others following smaller vehicles hauling trailers. Specifically, S863 would require trailers weighing up to 3,000 pounds to include one stop light visible from the rear.

Another bill covers the state’s newest drivers. S849 would require that prospective drivers under age 21 to complete a driver training course. Aspiring drivers 21 years of age or older would be required to complete an eight-hour defensive driving course.

One more bill would mandate that chemical tests be performed on certain motorists involved in bad accidents.

Sponsored by Rep. Bill Clyburn, D-Aiken, H4398 would require testing of vehicle operators arrested for their involvement in wrecks that result in serious injury or death.

The bills await consideration in committee once the regular session begins Jan. 14, 2014.

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