PIERRE, S.D. — The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) urges members of the South Dakota Senate Judiciary Committee to approve HB 1230, which will help make the state’s roads safer by strengthening the texting while driving law.
Preliminary 2017 data from the National Safety Council (NSC) shows that 2017 was the second consecutive year that motor vehicle deaths surpassed 40,000 nationally and fatalities on South Dakota roadways rose to 132, a 14 percent increase from 2016. Distracted driving is often cited as one of the leading causes for car crashes. Under current law, South Dakota law enforcement cannot pull anyone over for texting unless they see another offense. This important bill will make texting while driving a primary offense.
“This legislation will give law enforcement the tools they need to enforce the state’s texting ban,” said Melanie Smith, PCI regional manager for state government relations. “An officer can witness first hand a South Dakota driver texting, but they cannot pull them over unless they see another infraction of traffic safety law. We encourage lawmakers to make highway safety a priority with this commonsense solution to preventing deaths and injuries on our roads.”
Distracted driving is becoming an epidemic. According to a recent survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, two in three drivers admit to using portable electronic devices while driving and nearly half admit to texting while driving. However the reality may be far worse. A recent study by True Motion found that 92 percent of drivers used their smartphone in some way while they were driving. And drivers aren’t just talking and texting, they are using social media and other apps. The True Motion study found that the top apps used while driving include: YouTube, Netflix, Facebook Messenger and Gmail.
“In just one instant, distracted driving can change a life forever,” said Smith. “Lawmakers can send a message that texting while operating a 3,000-pound car is not acceptable behavior. It is time to act as South Dakota is one of only five states that still have secondary enforcement of their texting ban. Policymakers should approve HB 1230 and remove the Mount Rushmore state from this list.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear HB 1230 at 7:45am on February 27, 2018.