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Highway patrol cracking down on texting and driving this holiday season

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SC Highway Patrol troopers see people texting and driving far too often, especially around the holidays. They call it an addiction.

"We see people stop at a red light, the first thing they do is pick up their phone, yet when the light turns green they never put it back down. It's something that contributes to crashes," says Trooper David Jones.

It only takes a few seconds to send a text...a decision that seems harmless, but can have a lasting impact. That's why officers want to educate drivers on the importance of shifting focus from the phone to the road.

"You're driving at 60mph. The average text takes 2 or 3 seconds. You're traveling 150+ feet. That's half the distance of a football field. If a pedestrian or animal runs out in the middle of the road or if the car in front stops, there's nowhere else for you to go. Ultimately we see someone make that poor decision and they wreck their car," says Jones.

During Thanksgiving last year, 16 people died on SC roads, either from driving under the influence, not wearing a seat belt or distracted driving. Jones says the text message can wait.

A 2014 state law made it illegal to text, type or use apps on your phone while driving. That doesn't include talking on the phone. You can use it at stop signs and red lights, but if you're typing while in motion, you could be fined $25.

"That may be minimal but major penalties are loss of life or injury, or knowing you may have killed somebody. We can stop people, educate them, write tickets but we want to encourage people to do the right thing. If we can do that by warning them, that's the route we're going to take," says Jones.

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