SD committee debates statewide ban on texting & driving - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

SD committee debates statewide ban on texting & driving

PIERRE, S.D. (KTIV) - PIERRE, S.D. (KTIV)- South Dakota lawmakers are once again debating the rules of the road. Wednesday, they held a hearing on a ban on texting while driving. But, the debate took detour.

Efforts to pass a texting while drive ban have failed over and over in the South Dakota legislature. So, a handful of South Dakota cities have passed their own ban. Wednesday, lawmakers expected to hear arguments on a bill to ban, the bans.

"We all know this is going to save lives in South Dakota, we all know this is going to reduce accidents," Gosch said. House Speaker Brian Gosch, a Republican, says he's heard that argument before. But, he says the eight cities who have banned texting on their own, have done so illegally. "It's the legislature's job to determine these rules, not law enforcement," said Rep. Brian Gosch, (R) Speaker of the House. "I can't text at 30 miles per hour, but I can at 80 miles on the interstate," said Myron Rau, SD Trucking Association President. "That patchwork forces drivers to become detectives, as they're driving to figure out what the local rules of the road are in these varying communities," Matthew McCullough, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

But, a ban on the ban didn't seem to have much support. "I'll definitely oppose that bill, that's an attack on local control." said Rep. Jim Bolin, (R) Canton, SD. "If they shouldn't have been doing it, than they should have been told earlier," said Rep. Nancy Rasmussen, (R) Hurley, SD.

During the hearing, Gosch amended the bill to a state-wide texting while driving ban. As a second offense, the only way to be ticketed is if police pull you over for something else. "It's a very low standard, and I have a hard time dealing with a low standard when it comes to public safety," said Steve Allender, Rapid City Police Chief. "It seems pretty weak," said Rep. Ray Ring, (D) Vermillion, SD.

But, it's a start says Mike Stevens, who serves as vice-chair of the House Judiciary Committee that held a hearing on the bill. "If I drew up this bill, might I had it different? I might have had. The point that I think is the one can't miss in this whole process, is that fact that we want to get a bill passed," said Rep. Mike Stevens, (R) Yankton, SD.

Do you believe in a texting ban? "I think it's been difficult to enforce, and I believe that difficulty remains.I'm also aware, sometimes human behavior change, just because the law is, not because of whether the law is enforceable or not." Gov. Dennis Daugaard, (R) South Dakota said.

Even Gosch, himself, questioned the potential of a texting ban. "It does not reduce accidents in any state that has enacted a texting ban. In some states, it has actually led to additional accident claims," said Gosch.

House Minority Leader Bernie Hunhoff disagreed. "Statistics will sell it. Eventually, just like they did with seatbelts and with helmet laws, eventually, the statistics become so overwhelming, the lives saved become so obvious, you just can't saw no anymore." said Rep. Bernie Hunhoff, (D) Yankton. Hunhoff said a texting ban isn't likely to get any further this year than it did last. "We'll be the 45th or 46th or 50th state to do it, but it will eventually happen here," Rep. Hunhoff said.

The Judiciary Committee decided to push the vote to Monday, to allow for more testimony.

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