Authorities discuss texting and driving laws

RAPID CITY, S.D. — We all know texting a driving isn’t safe and sometimes just can’t say no to that call or text, but you may want to reconsider. According to the CDC, each day approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to have involved a distracted driver.

Around 9% of all teen motor crashes involved a distracted driver, and in 2017 a study found that 42% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days admitted sending a text or email while driving. In order to discourage phone use, South Dakota’s House Transportation Committee approved a bill that would make texting and driving a primary offense. It could also carry a fine of up to $122.

Jerry Johnson, a driving instructor for the Black Hills Career Learning Center expressed his thought on the bill. 

“I think it should be a primary offense, everyone agrees that texting and driving, using the phone and a lot of other distractions are certainly very dangerous when operating a 3,000 lb weapon. So, anything in the name of safety, I support.”

While South Dakota has seen texting and driving as a secondary offense, according to Sgt. Billy Davis of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Department, the ban on texting and driving has been a Rapid City ordinance for the last four years as a primary offense. Sgt. Davis said texting and driving often resembles drunk driving, and is how officers observer drivers using phones.

Johnson hopes that more car manufacturers will consider adding safety features that would disable cars while moving, and insists pulling over if you need to talk. 

The bill would make texting, browsing Facebook and sending emails a misdemeanor, but using navigation apps, making telephone calls or operating in the hands-free mode and emergency use would be permitted. It should also be noted that while texting has been addressed in the bill, there are many other ways drivers can be distracted. Johson says,

“I think any of those other distractions, whether it’s eating food, changing CDs, etc., they all take time and concentration. And that’s where the problem of driving a weapon like that down the street is an issue. We just kill so many and injure so many people on our highways. I think it’s upon all of us, not only the driving public, but all of us to ensure that we can make our roads safer.” 


Categories: Local News, South Dakota News