We don't have a statewide ban on texting and driving in the legislative hopper yet, but we do have a bill to make life harder for commercial drivers who text behind the wheel. With Senate Bill 44, the Department of Public Safety asks that we add violation of a federal, state, or local texting-while-driving ban to the list of "serious traffic violations" that can result in losing one's commercial driver license.
So pass this bill, and local texting-while-driving ordinances will have some more teeth, at least for the folks driving the biggest rigs on our streets. Of course, for SB 44 to have any impact, local law enforcement will have to enforce those local bans... and after three months, Sioux Falls has issued only two citations under its texting-while-driving ban.
The federal government already bans commercial drivers from texting while driving and other on-road cell-phone use. Those federal rules also require that all states adopt similar texting prohibitions by October 27, 2013. I'll be interested to hear whether Senator Otten, Rep. Russell, or any other conservatives try to block SB 44 with complaints about the onerousness of federal mandates.
It's too bad it takes Uncle Sam to get us moving on this issue. But SB 44 is a step in the right direction to changing our e-chatting culture. Whether you're a commercial driver or just taking a Sunday spin, your thumbs should be firmly wrapped around the wheel, not tapping out messages that can surely wait. Nothing you want to text is more important than keeping your truck or car from doing damage to someone else.