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Rep. David Lust’s Selective Data-Driven Decision-Making

I could almost respect Rep. David Lust. Almost:

For the second consecutive year, a bill to make texting while driving illegal in South Dakota was shot down in the State Legislature. South Dakota now remains one of only eight states in the country to have no regulation regarding cell phone use while driving.

Most South Dakotans can agree texting and driving is dangerous. The most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows cell phone use while driving caused more than 1,000 deaths and 2,400 injuries, prompting the U.S. Department of Transportation and National Transportation Safety Board to encourage states to ban the behavior.

Even with the statistics, House Bill 1129 was killed in the House State Affairs Committee by a vote of 10-3....

House Majority Leader David Lust (R)-District 34 is among the lawmakers who voted to kill the bill in committee. Lust says more data needs to be provided before he can make an informed decision on the ban. He says that includes anticipated findings of a newly appointed task force on teen driving [Shonti Tager, "Safety Concerns Abound as Texting While Driving Bill Dies Again," KOTA, 2012.02.17].

Majority Leader David Lust heard twelve proponents come to his House State Affairs Committee to present data on the dangers of texting while driving. We've had research since 2009 showing that texting while driving increases the risk of a crash 23 times. That's roughly the same relative accident risk of driving around with a blood alcohol level of 0.15.

Yet Rep. Lust says that's not enough to ban texting while driving. Good policy demands even more data...

..unless it's something the Governor wants. Unless it's HB 1234, an education policy with no evidence that it will work, no data to demonstrate the problem it purports to solve. Rep. Lust voted for that non-data-driven bill.

I respect data-driven decision-making. I could respect Rep. David Lust if I thought he really believed what he was saying about the need for data in policy. But when he ignores a fair amount of data on a bill he opposes, then ignores the paucity of data supporting a bill he likes, I can only conclude that his commitment to "data" is all show.



  1. mike 2012.02.19

    Even I support a ban on texting allowing for the fine to be reasonable.

  2. larry kurtz 2012.02.20

    No law will deter red state gestapo from detaining anyone; people should just expect to be arrested in the chemical toilet.

    Are counties and municipalities allowed to pass statutes that regulate electronics use in highway vehicles? Ziebach ain't Minnehaha.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.02.20

    Mike, where's your data? Rep. Lust will call you reckless and throw you out of the next committee meeting....

    Larry, I'm not sure if counties can impose additional ordinances on state highways, but other roads should be fair game. Until our legislators overcome their own entitlement mindset, city and county police should start enforcing our reckless and careless driving statutes on texters and phoners.

  4. Les 2012.02.20

    Billings Mt, no cell phone use in the city. Rockport Tx, $200 automatic fine if they see a cell phone in your hand driving in any school zone.

    I don't like more laws, but, if I drove half as bad the years I drank as I do fumbling with my cell phone, there would have been no way I'd have made it without DUI's.

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