OUR VIEW: Texting ban worthy of support by City CouncilWe’ve long been frustrated by the Legislature’s hesitancy to ban texting while driving in South Dakota.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
We’ve long been frustrated by the Legislature’s hesitancy to ban texting while driving in South Dakota.
It will be two years ago Thursday since Jon Christensen, 44, of Mitchell, was stopped on his motorcycle behind two other vehicles at a state Highway 38 construction site a few miles east of the city. He was fatally struck from behind by a pickup, and it was later discovered the driver of the pickup had received and read a text message around the time of the crash.
What better argument is there for banning texting while driving? Christensen’s death would have been enough by itself to convince us, but there are countless other stories of similar tragedies throughout the state, nation and world.
We’re not naive. We know placing a ban on texting while driving will not stop the practice. And we know it won’t always be easy for law enforcement officers to tell if a driver is texting. Such arguments have been used in the Legislature to oppose a texting-while-driving ban.
But those arguments don’t hold up very well. Should we legalize speeding and drunken driving just because people still do both and sometimes get away with it? Absolutely not. Part of the purpose of a law is simply to make a statement about whether a particular behavior is acceptable. Just the act of outlawing texting while driving will have at least some impact.
And what of the enforcement issues? We’ve always thought legislators should do their own job by passing a ban. The law enforcement personnel of this state are more than capable of doing their job of enforcement.
Yet the Legislature, despite persistent support for a ban from lawmakers such as Mitchell’s own Sen. Mike Vehle, has not acted.
Recently, the city of Sioux Falls took the bold step of banning texting while driving within that city. Mitchell Mayor Ken Tracy said Monday night that Mitchell should follow suit.
There simply is no good reason to allow texting while driving to remain legal. It presents a clear danger and should be outlawed not only in Sioux Falls and Mitchell, but everywhere.