OUR VIEW: Teen driving bills would improve road safetyIt hasn’t been a great session for improving road safety in South Dakota, but at least there is still some hope.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
So, our state lawmakers have decided that habitual speeding should not count as points against a driver’s license. And they’ve been hesitant to ban the dangerous practice of texting and driving on South Dakota streets and highways. And they haven’t been interested in providing funding to fix dilapidated rural highways. It hasn’t been a great session for improving road safety in South Dakota, but at least there is still some hope.
A series of bills aimed at young drivers is still alive in the Legislature, and if passed, those bills could go a long way toward improving safety on our streets. SB 105 deals with lengthening the time required for a learner’s permit. At present, it’s six months after a driver turns 14, but if passed, SB 105 will require a year’s wait before a driver can graduate from a learner’s permit to a license — a bit shorter if the teen has passed driver’s education.
SB 106 would ban the use of wireless communications devices for those who either have a learner’s permit or a restricted minor’s permit.
SB 107 would restrict the number of non-family passengers in a vehicle to just one. An exception would be made if the driver is heading to a school-related function.
And SB 216 would re-institute the statewide standardized driver education program.
Because of our rural heritage, South Dakota has been more lenient than many other states with its restrictions on young drivers. We have for years allowed 14-year-olds to drive, albeit upon restricted permits.
We still feel younger teens deserve the right to drive, and we also realize that in most cases, it creates convenience for those kids’ families.
But we all know that these young drivers need their full attention upon the task at hand, and these bills will help ensure that their minds are right when they get behind the wheel.
Because they will improve street and highway safety in South Dakota, and because they could help save the life of an otherwise distracted young driver, we hope all of these bills pass.