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As others see it: Texting ban needed

We were sorely disappointed earlier this year when the South Dakota Legislature considered, but failed to pass, a ban on texting while driving.

We said then it was a bad decision to reject the bill, and it looks even worse now.

Wednesday, Justin Iburg, 21, of Fulton, was convicted of reckless driving for his role in the September death of Jon Christensen, 44, of Mitchell. Christensen was stopped on his motorcycle at a construction site just east of Mitchell when he was struck and killed by a pickup driven by Iburg. Authorities said Iburg received and read a text message around the time of the accident.

Would a ban on texting while driving have saved Christensen's life? Perhaps not. People commit other traffic offenses, such as driving drunk and exceeding the speed limit, even though there are laws against those activities. There will certainly be texting drivers if the Legislature bans the practice.

So, while we can never say what impact a texting-while-driving ban might have had in the Christensen case, we are convinced that a law banning texting while driving would save some lives. By merely stating that texting while driving is a crime, the Legislature would send a very effective message about the dangers of texting behind the wheel. We need only look at seat-belt usage statistics for an example of the effect that laws have on motorists. ...

Some say a ban on texting while driving would be too difficult to enforce. We say, who cares? Texting while driving is deadly dangerous and should be banned, period. The many competent law-enforcement officials in South Dakota can figure out how to enforce the law when the time comes. ...

Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic