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OUR VIEW: Legislators need to wake up and ban texting-and-driving

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opinion Mitchell, 57301

Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

City councils — and by extension, the people of those cities — have been falling in line over the last year or two to ban the dangerous practice of texting-while-driving.

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We’re glad to see that the councils in South Dakota’s largest cities are taking it upon themselves to see that drivers who text are not welcome on their streets.

That the state Legislature doesn’t recognize this queue is completely beyond us.

Members of the Legislature just don’t understand why it’s important that a statewide ban be put in place. Or, they just don’t believe it is a dangerous practice.

Either way, that’s bad for South Dakota.

We reported last week that a statewide poll shows that 85 to 95 percent of South Dakotans agree that texting while driving should be banned.

Armed with that information, state Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, said he plans to again introduce a texting-while-driving ban during the 2014 session, which began last week. He said it’s a problem with the state’s culture, and compared this effort to similar efforts in the past to rid the roads of drunken drivers. We agree with him entirely.

Vehle isn’t new to this game — he’s felt this way for some time now. It’ll be interesting to see if his counterparts in the Legislature are starting to see the light.

This has come before the Legislature in the past, but the idea failed to gain traction, probably due to our state’s supposed belief in having certain freedoms even if those freedoms are dangerous to others.

And as state leaders have failed to see the dangers in texting and driving, South Dakota’s cities have decided to take their own action. Mitchell, for instance, last year joined numerous other cities in enacting a ban against texting while driving.

We wish Vehle luck in this year’s bid, but for some reason, we wonder if the rest of the Legislature will agree with him.

If other members do back Vehle’s plan, we’ll wonder what took them so long and what finally made them change their mind.

And if they don’t back Vehle, we’ll just be left to wonder what the heck they’re thinking.

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