SB 71 : Texting Ban

SB 71 : An Act to prohibit the use of certain handheld electronic wireless devices for electronic messaging while driving.

I think a few of you predicted this bill was coming.

As I predicted, (I think) it is poorly worded.    When I commented in TC’s post on this topic I said that the problem with this type of bill is that as soon as you define what is illegal you have by default defined what is not illegal.  This bill would outlaw “using a handheld electronic wireless communication device to write, send, or read a text-based communication”.

See any loop holes there?   While the bill defines “hands free technology”, it fails to define what is a handheld device.  Can I still use my internet connected laptop, netbook, or iPad since I don’t have to hold them in my hand?  What if my phone is cradled?
Also, this only outlaws “text-based communications” which would cover text messages, IMs and email.   Know anyone that is constantly browsing through their MP3 playlist?  Have a friend that has a million crazy MMS (picture or video) messages saved and it always forwarding them to everyone they know, or holding their phone in your face to watch a few?  Still legal while driving.

Aside from the loop holes, I see this as near impossible to enforce.  People will just start holding their phone in their laps while texting.  Sure, you can spot someone staring at their crotch while driving, but how do yo prove they were reading a text message?  Will law enforcement now be requesting the phone records of all suspected offenders?  I think that might get some privacy advocates in an uproar.

Thoughts?  Maybe I am just being too critical.  Maybe texting is the only problem and these other things don’t happen enough to be distractions.  Maybe the enforcement  isn’t an issue – the law alone would prevent it from happening, right?

41 Replies to “SB 71 : Texting Ban”

  1. Holy Cow!

    Holy Cow! I think it’s great! It’s been proven that outlawing texting lowers accident rates which will make my insurance cheaper!

    But I do think the bill should be amended to also include ?no eating or drinking? in the front seat of a moving vehicle! Hey, tell what you need to do for some excitement? Go to 41st street in Sioux Falls say between 11:00 AM and 2 PM and follow the people that leave McDonald?s drive up window! They are in a hurry to get back to work while munching on 2 McDoubles, large order of fries and a 32 oz. soda?.all the while moving down the wildest street in South Dakota! LOL I am serious! Pull up to any fast food drive up and just follow the people that leave there! Believe me, you will never have to go to another Shrine Circus again after watching this mess!

    Holy Cow! Come to think of it, I think the bill should be amended to say that ?fast food drive up windows will not be allowed in South Dakota?. Either you go inside to eat or you have the food delivered to your home or business. Every single one of us knows this WILL make 41st street in Sioux Falls a heck of a lot safer!

    1. Name

      We need to ban texting while driving. I don’t usually support this kind of thing but I don’t think most kids understand exactly how dangerous it is. I think making it stand out as illegal would go along way towards slowing down the problem.

      1. anon

        How do you enforce it? It is impossible.Even if the cop is highly suspect to the fact that you were texting they would have to subpoena your phone records. That will never happen except for cases of a traffic fatalities.

        Do we really need yet another unenforcable law on the books?

        I am not saying texting while driving isn’t dangerous. It is. However, maybe parents should try being PARENTS and letting their teens know the danger and ban it at a family level.

  2. William

    Why the over specificity of regulation? Failing to maintain traffic flow or failure to be alert to driving conditions IS subjective BUT WHAT ISN’T. Too much specificity only allows the law to be “bent”. We already have laws in place, use them.

  3. goldman

    Distracted driving is the issue. Anyone who drives on South Dakota highways has experienced a texter crossing the center line or seen someone overcorrecting on the Interstate because they start to drift. Clarify the law, then put teeth in it that exempts insurance companies from having to cover damages or limits their exposure from text-related and alcohol-related accidents or something to that effect. Those who text or talk leave a precise electronic footprint, date and time-stamped. Distracted driving kills just as quickly as alcohol-related accidents. When you can’t see the road, someone gets hurt.

  4. Arrowhead

    It’s not safe. It should be made specific that it is not safe. I don’t think most kids realize how dangerous it is.

    Also you can download an APP that will make it impossible to text while a vehicle is in motion.

  5. springer

    Basically, you cannot legislate against stupidity. Even if illegal, texters will still text, people will eat, people will reach down to retrieve something off the floor, cell phone yakkers will still yak, women will apply makeup, men will shave, and on and on. Basically the best we can do is try to educate our kids. Maybe the best thing would be to make cell phones not work for texting when in a vehicle; that would solve the problem. But no one would stand for not being able to talk on the phone in a car.

  6. CaveMan

    What if; just saying here it might be able to be done, the cell phone towers in SD would all have the technology to scramble all text possibilities in GPS model phones that are moving over 10 miles an hour? Any thoughts from the Tech guys if this is a possibility???

    1. Knee Jerk..

      There is are various forms of technology to do it in various forms: http://www.progressive.com/auto-tech/entries/2009/8/28/safer_texting_and_c.aspx

      Banning the use is idiotic, stopping the ability to text and drive would actually prevent accidents.

      Imagine the traffic stops: “Your honor, I pulled over Mr. Caveman because he only had one hand on the wheel. That type of driving is indicitive of someone texting while driving.”

      Have a friend hold an object in their hand and see what they are doing from across the room. Now, have them drive in a car doing thirty with an object in their hand as they pass you standing beside the road. Now, have them do the same and you driving in the other direction.

      Cops are not superman, they cannot see what the heck you have in your hand or what you are doing in most of the above circumastances; however, putting such a statute in effect does give them the right to stop you for probable cause if they believe your actions might indicate you are engaging in such activity…

  7. I would rather be fishing

    I just talked to law enforcement officer. He said there already is a law on the books that covers texting. Can?t remember exactly what he called it??something driving while distracted?

    Anyway, he said if a person is in an accident, or driving in such a manner that he has the right to pull them over, if the reason for their dangerous driving is ?distraction? he can give them a ticket for that!

    Is he pulling my leg on this one?

    1. Hoople Head

      It is illeagal to operate a vehicle heedlessly in disregard of the rights or safety of others. SDCL 32-24-1 sets no limits as to what actions are of cause. Eating, read a book, tend your nostrils, tell your children to settle down, finish your make-up, reach for your sunglasses, texting or operating electronic devices. I support advocacy of the danger of text-distracted driving and signing pledges to not text and drive. I hope it is a repeated question on the new drivers test.

  8. Duh

    Caveman motion disabling won’t work. Why? How about others in the car who are texting business/pleasure? How about taxiing in an airplane? How about private airplanes where you can use your phone? How about bus riders, train occupants, horseback riders even?

  9. Les

    Checking the phone of all accident drivers, speeders, stop sign violations etc at the scene similar to a breathalyzer would do it. Lose your license for a year for not allowing the officer to look at your text inbox and sent for the last usage or lying about owning one. Get fined if it was involved in your infraction.

    1. Anon

      My phone is a computer, so you have to get a court order to look at the records on it.
      Also, my phone is set up to not store send text messages, so go ahead and look at the phone, but you wont see any indication that I sent a text.

        1. Anon

          So, you are fine with a cop looking at your personal computer. Reading your personal communications. All without a warrant?

          Like I said, on my phone, you are free to look at my messages, because they aren’t saved by default. Look all you want, but without getting my phone records (which will require a court order) you will have no idea if I sent a text message.

        2. Anon

          According to folks like Les, you must surrender your personal phone to an officer so that they can use it to find evidence that you may have committed a crime. The problem is that the officer should already have evidence that you did commit a crime. As Les says, you were pulled over for speeding, or running a stop sign, or swerving. Guess what? Those are all driving violations — so write the friggen ticket!!

          Do we need another law that says it is illegal to break the law while using a phone?

          If you are a small-government conservative or a privacy advocate, you should be immediately on high alert after hearing what guys like Les are proposing – Turn over your personal property to law enforcement so that it may be used against you or face jail time / loss of license.

          1. Les

            The right to drive is a right not a privilege.

            When the young gal blew the stop sign at 25 hitting my sis/inlaw broadside with inujuries, she was ticketed for reckless, why not the same as DUI of the cell phone as she never looked up from her conversation until she started screaming at my family for causing the accident. My what a surprise when they pointed to the stop sign she had blown.

            When you break the law, you lose your rights. Your rant sound like the liberal wacko’s who wish to take my rights(safety on the road) to further their own little pleasures.

  10. Stan Gibilisco

    And the penalty shall comprise:
    (1) Forty hours of community service
    (2) A fine of $1,000
    (3) Successful completion of a cell-phone and texting addiction rehab program
    (4) A harder time getting auto insurance in the future

  11. Anon

    Les,
    It is already illegal to run a stop sign. How much more illegal does it need to be.
    You are saying you want a law that makes it illegal to break the law (while holding a phone).

    It is like when Hillary called for a law banning illegal guns.

    Trust me, I am not a lefty. Far from it. I just cant see the need for a law to make something more illegal. Especially when the new law will be 100% unenforceable without violating some very basic rights. You are the one that sounds like a lefty – telling people that every single traffic stop now turns into an Eastern Bloc-style interrogation with your personal property being confiscated and used against you.

  12. Les

    Where did I say every single stop requires a gestapo investigation anon.

    Do you get the alchy test every time you get stopped?

    Reasonable cause always needs to be a part of our system.

    Drive in Billings Mt with phone to your ear and you are ticketed, which forces kids to text while driving.

    Let me protect myself by whatever means I deem necessary from the almost out of control cell phone users and I will go away quietly.

    Is there any of us who haven’t had a close call using our own phones while driving?

    1. Stan Gibilisco

      I, for one, have never had such an event. My cell phone is a prepaid “TracPhone” that I use only when traveling (not often), and then only to make hotel reservations or to check my home voice mail. I never attempt to use it when driving; I use it only at convenience stores when refreshing my body with Diet Mountain Dew. I don’t even know how to take a call on the bloody thing! Now that everyone knows what a fuddy-duddy I am … I feel no guilt. I know enough about technology to know its limitations, and the more I learn, the more skeptical and cautious I get. Quite frankly, all this texting and cell-phone use puzzles me. Why must we always be “communicating”? I’d rather listen to good music when driving, or, if I want some good laughs, listen to one of those rant talk shows on AM radio along with the whine of utility-line noise.

  13. Anon

    Les, you did say “Checking the phone of all accident drivers, speeders, stop sign violations etc at the scene…”
    Forgive me if I misunderstood that statement to mean anything other that almost all driving violations would end up with a cop checking your phone.

    I think the problem is that you are argueing with emotion rather than logic.
    For instance with your own example with you sister in law, the other driver was driving recklessly and was given a citation for reckless driving. How would that change with a new law? I understand the emotion because you know someone that was hurt, but the existing laws did take care of the violations, correct?

    I completely concede that fact that driving while texting is dangerous.
    But there are existing laws in place that deal with it.

    Let me give you an example and ask you a question.
    Driver-A runs a stop sign while texting
    Driver-B runs a stop sign while messing with the radio
    Driver-C runs a stop sign while wiping up ketchup that fell off their burger onto their lap
    Driver-D runs a stop sign while using the mirror to shave or apply makeup
    Are all of these drivers guilty of the same violation?

  14. Les

    I understand what you are saying anon. And I also understand my emotion and know it is part of my thought process and also understand my ideas could possibly bring on as many legal issues as it might correct, however.

    Can you also concede that we don’t do b,c and d nearly as all of us text and talk? And that while doing the above, our mentally abilities are somewhat compromised? Almost always when I see someone driving erratically and have the opportunity to see at some point, it is a cell phone chatting person, young, old or otherwise.

    I also feel there is a cell phone addiction in our world and truly believe technology will eventually take care of this problem. In the mean time, I don’t like the thought of anyone losing loved one’s to the compromised driver.

  15. Les

    Not to beat a dead horse, I just received this from NTCA this morning:

    Across the United States, distracted driving has become a crucial issue. More and more drivers are using cell phones on the roads, endangering lives. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research indicates that nearly 6,000 people die and close to 500,000 people are injured in crashes involving distracted driving each year.

  16. wow

    It will be just like the smoking ban…Aberedeen bars claim no violations are occurring and Aberdeen police said no complaints have been filed…rest of the story is that people are doing what they want and where they want in some bars, the owners allow it, and the police are never walking through the bars to see if anyone is violating the smoking law. I know I am somewhat off subject…point is that if passed the texting ban will be just another stupid law..not enforceable. Violators will continue and will get away with it.