Senate Bill 171 Moves to the Floor
By Travis Berg
A bill banning texting while driving passed with a 6 to 1 vote and goes to the Senate floor. The measure prohibits texting while operating a motor vehicle in motion. It doesn't ban making a phone call. The penalty for violating the law is a Class two misdemeanor and a 500 dollar fine. SDPB's Travis Berg says there was heavy support for the ban. The only question was how to enforce it.
Twenty people testified to support the ban. One of them was Miss South Dakota Loren Vaillancourt. Her brother was killed in a motor vehicle accident because the driver was distracted by his cell phone. She says the measure will save lives.
Vaillancourt says, "Accidents like this, texting and driving accidents are 100 percent preventable. There is no reason that anything like this should have to happen to anybody."
Opponents say it'll be difficult to prove when and where someone is texting. They say it will lead to more traffic stops, invasion of privacy, and more court cases. Senator Mike Vehle (VALLEY) supported the bill. He says the bill's not perfect. However, getting a majority of the people to stop texting and driving solves a good share of the problem.
Vehle says, "And that's better than not doing anything at all. And so I think we need to look at this bill as a step in the right direction. We know that careless driving is not going to take care of it, and it's going to continue to get worse."
The bill to prohibit the use of certain wireless communication devices while driving has been deferred to another day. For South Dakota Public Broadcasting I'm Travis Berg.
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