OUR VIEW: No objections should stop texting-driving ban in the citySomehow, 35 states have declared that texting while driving is illegal. Somehow, those 35 states have decided that they can figure out ways to enact and enforce a law whose mere presence on the books could save a life.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
Somehow, 35 states have declared that texting while driving is illegal. Somehow, those 35 states have decided that they can figure out ways to enact and enforce a law whose mere presence on the books could save a life.
South Dakota isn’t one of those states, and the state Legislature’s failure to act on this issue is prompting cities to take their own action. For instance, Sioux Falls’ City Council recently declared texting and driving illegal in that city’s limits.
Here in Mitchell, Mayor Ken Tracy wants to follow suit. He says if the Legislature won’t act, he will. Good for him.
But the majority of our City Council doesn’t agree. Monday, the council decided against a texting-driving ban in the city.
Opponents say it’s unenforceable. We say no law is truly unenforceable, and note that many laws are regularly skirted. For instance, we suspect very few people pay state sales tax on Internet purchases, even though they’re required by law to do so.
Opponents say it will be difficult to investigate potential texting-while-driving cases. We remind readers that our local law agency has successfully investigated much larger, much more difficult cases. These are smart people. They’ll figure it out.
Opponents say that during investigations, it’s possible that suspects’ cell phones could become open to police — and therefore public — scrutiny. We say that seems very appropriate in cases that involve injury or death.
Opponents say it would be difficult for police to differentiate between texting and other cell phone activity, such as simply dialing a phone number. We acknowledge that, but we don’t believe the difficulty of differentiating one unsafe cell phone activity from another should make all of them immune from the law.
However, we do feel that simply declaring it illegal to text while driving will send a very strong message to everyone who ever has done it. And how can we tell our kids not to do it when it’s perfectly legal?
Two years ago, a Mitchell man died due to a texting driver. We commend that driver, Justin Iburg, for now speaking out against texting while driving.
If another innocent person dies due to this nasty habit, will we see changes then? We sense the answer would be yes.
So, why wait?