« The Daily Dose

Why a state texting ban?

by Greg Belfrage

A big debate over a statewide texting while driving ban is brewing in Pierre.

As I mentioned last week, the state House passed a ban that would replace existing municipal bans against texting while driving. However, some state senators have criticized the House ban as being far too soft.

Last week's vote marks a major shift in the state House, as representatives have voted against a statewide texting ban for several years running.

Rep. Kristin Conzet (R-Rapid City) told the Argus Leader that there's been a culture shift in the House. She credits lawmakers for listening to constituents and changing their minds.

I doubt the motive for change in the House of Representatives was that pure.

My own theory is that past House opponents of the ban, some of whom sponsored this bill, could no longer stem the tide. They've had their collective finger in the dyke for years, trying to stop the mad rush toward a texting while driving ban.

However, cities threw a wrench in those efforts by passing their own texting bans.

Those efforts left opponents in the House with little to do except pass their own watered down ban, in the hopes of repealing and replacing more vigorous municipal texting bans.

At least, that's my theory. I don't believe the motives of House members are as grandiose as has been suggested.

Personally, I don't believe in texting bans. Studies have shown the bans often result in an increase in accidents. They also result in few citations because they are difficult to enforce.

However, I do understand politicians. Most are highly motivated by a desire to be seen as doing something, especially on an issue which has become infuriating to the public.

In my view, the legislature ought to sit this one out. Texting bans should be left to local control. Let's hope the South Dakota Senate is more committed to that ideal than the state House.

 Greg Belfrage (@belfrageshow) is heard mornings 6am-9am on KELO Newstalk 1320 AM / 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com.