OUR VIEW: Lawmakers should do more to make SD roads saferBan on texting while driving, move to add points to speeders' drivers' licenses missed opportunities to serve public good.
The state Legislature had two opportunities to make South Dakota roads safer, but opted against taking such a course with decisions this week.
Monday, the state House of Representatives voted 39-30 to kill legislation that would have instituted a points system for speeding violations. Under the proposal, regular speeders would risk losing their license unless they slowed down; that’s the way it was in South Dakota until 1986, when the Legislature opted to do away with the points system.
Wednesday, the Senate Affairs Committee decided against a ban on texting while driving. Although numerous other states have such bans, South Dakota evidently doesn’t need one.
We are disappointed by both decisions.
As we have argued in the past, a texting ban wouldn’t be perfect and law-enforcement officers may struggle to enforce it. But the simple fact that the act is made illegal would create awareness for people to quit texting while behind the wheel. A law also would add teeth to punishments of proven violators who cause accidents.
With the points system, South Dakota could finally get some of the state’s most dangerous drivers off the roads. But instead of eventually convincing folks to slow down, South Dakota will continue to be a state where those who can pay the fines can speed at will.
Of course, there still is a points system in the state. Drivers who accidentally cruise through a stop light, for instance, see points accumulate against their license. After a few of these mistakes, they may indeed lose their driving privileges.
But intentionally speeding — driving 85 or 90 mph down a two-lane highway? Well, go ahead and do that if you can afford it.
If our roads are ever to be truly safe, people need to pay the consequences, not fines.
Come on, lawmakers. Why are you being so stubborn on these key issues that deal with protecting the public?