Despite flaws, texting ban still needed

Farm Forum

Huron’s done it. Sioux Falls has, too.

It’s time for South Dakota lawmakers to ban texting while driving.

No legislation is in the works to ban texting while driving, but Bob Mercer reports that the Department of Public Safety has submitted legislation that would allow a commercial driver’s license to be taken if the driver violates local, state or federal texting laws.

We think the Legislature should go further.

The argument against texting bans comes down to a couple of points.

The bans are hard to enforce

We don’t doubt that texting bans are hard to enforce.

But sometimes we do things even though they’re hard.

And, in this case, it’s really not so tricky. How many of us have seen the driver in the car next to us looking at their cellphone instead of the road?

Imagine we were police. That’s how it would work.

And to go further, if a driver is swerving on the road and is found to be drunk, there is a penalty. A driver swerving on the road because of texting could be penalized additionally for the cellphone infraction.

Most likely, police wouldn’t be pulling people over for texting; that is impossible. However, like seat belt laws and other violations, it can be an added infraction when an officer does pull over a driver who isn’t behaving in a safe way.

The bans aren’t a deterrent

Well, what law is? Many of them, actually.

In this case, if even a handful of people are deterred, it’s a good thing. And many people will obey the law – especially if they know there is a hefty fine, or worse, if they don’t comply.

A ban also puts more weight behind campaigns to get kids (and, frankly, adults) to stop texting while driving.

Sioux Falls and Huron don’t see either of these arguments as enough good reason to ignore texting while driving.

State lawmakers need to take it seriously, too, as more and more drivers are getting more and more information coming at them. This is a real issue and will only get more prevalent.

We still see a difference between texting and talking on the phone, but texting is a great place to start.

We have a great idea for a penalty, too: When someone is caught, police can confiscate their phone for 30 days. Maybe even create a fee to break the phone out of the “impound lot.”

For so many of us addicted to our smartphones, the threat of losing it for a few days might make the roads a lot safer.