Texting Bans, Are They Working?
by Breanna Fuss, Reporter
March 19, 2013 6:35 PM
In February, South Dakota Legislators killed a bill that would have created a statewide texting and driving ban. However some cities are taking the matter into their own hands, creating a ban within in city limits. But is effective?
"If they're conducting that type of activity, are they putting the phone back up then to their head and actually talking? Or are they continuing to do this,” said Brookings Police Chief Jeff Miller.
‘This’ would be head bent down, without both hands on the wheel, texting while driving. And Miller said it’s something the city banned in the fall.
“We've began at least some education with the public, as well as our officers as to how to enforce such an ordinance,” Miller said.
And Miller said it has been no easy feat. Since the ordinance was passed only one citation has been given. But Miller is quick to say giving drivers tickets isn’t what the ban is about.
“The intent behind the ordinance is to promote safe driving and not careless driving,” said Miller.
He said 70 to 75 percent of drivers do what police call a 'voluntary compliance,' which is something drivers already do every day when they follow the speed limit.
“We can't be everywhere all the time,” said Miller. “And so we cant consequently stop every speeder on the street.”
He said the same goes for drivers who may be paying for attention to their phone than the road.
Miller said he is glad they haven’t written many tickets, it means people are following the ordinance. And he wishes state legislators had backed the already four towns that have a similar ban to keep more people safe.
“I think all of us in the communities that enacted such ordinances hoped that message would have been sent to Pierre and that they would have adopted something similar,” said Miller.
Miller said he hopes other towns adopt an ordinance like his city did, because in the end it could save lives.
“The idea behind the texting ordinance is to spell it out,” Miller said. “You know, this is distracted driving, and it is a very dangerous thing to do.”
A ticket for texting and driving in Brookings is $60, and is considered a misdemeanor. It is also a primary offense, which means police in Brookings can pull you over just for texting and driving.