BEAUFORT

Crashed car displayed in downtown Beaufort warns against texting and driving

emoody@beaufortgazette.comDecember 7, 2012 

A wrecked vehicle sits on display Friday afternoon in the Downtown Marina of Beaufort parking lot to raise awareness of the dangers of texting and driving.

SARAH WELLIVER

To spread the word about Beaufort's new ban on texting while driving, a crashed car with warning signs is being displayed around town.

The black 2008 Chevy Impala, which is on a trailer and festooned with signs warning about various types of dangerous driving, is in the Beaufort Downtown Marina parking lot. The city expects it to get a lot of attention, especially this weekend as holiday festivities get under way.

A ban on texting while driving went into effect last month. It also prohibits those younger than 18 from using a cellphone while behind the wheel.

The display will remain at the marina for about a week, Police Chief Matt Clancy said. He has talked to other local law-enforcement agencies, Marine Corps officials, the Beaufort County School District and local organizations about other temporary locations for the car. Anyone interested in displaying the warning car for an event or in a high-visibility area should contact the police department at 843-322-7901.

The warning car is a cooperative effort between the police department and local State Farm Insurance agents. Agent Andy Corriveau said the car was salvaged from a wreck, and the local insurance agencies donated money for the trailer and to help with the signs. Because of privacy reasons, officials declined to reveal what caused the car's damage.

"We're really pleased that the police department is focusing attention on the issue of texting and driving, and they are going to use this as a vehicle, pardon the pun, to get the message out," Corriveau said.

State Farm also is providing thumb bands -- small, rubber rings similar to bracelets popularized by the nonprofit Livestrong organization -- to the department to give to youth, agent Amy Bowman said. The hope is the bright orange bands will catch drivers' eyes if they start to text and remind them to put the phone down.

A first violation of the ban brings a $50 fine. Subsequent violations are $150. A citation doesn't add points to a driver's license. Clancy said only one written warning has been issued so far.

South Carolina is one of only 11 states that does not have a statewide ban. Six other municipalities in the Palmetto State have a similar law -- Clemson, Walhalla, West Union, Columbia, Camden and Sumter.

In other changes about town:

  • Beaufort Dog is expanding again. It opened a training and care facility five years ago at 1307 Boundary St., opened a spa and veterinary location in Habersham four years ago and added cat services. Now, the business is opening a family equine facility outside of Beaufort, according to a release.

  • Information: Beaufort Dog Inc., 843-812-5394; Beaufort Dog at Habersham Inc., 843-379-9617.

  • The Big Cheezy Pizza And General Store, 2137 Sea Island Parkway, St. Helena Island, has closed. The building is being advertised for rent.

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