PIERRE, S.D. — Recently introduced legislation, HB 1169, would combat distracted driving and the ubiquitous use of smartphones behind the wheel, which are widely believed to be one of the leading causes for crashes and fatalities, according to the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA).
“Over the last five years traffic crashes in South Dakota have increased 10 percent as we have seen an increase in drivers using smartphones,” said Steve Schneider, APCIA vice president, Midwest region state affairs. “To protect everyone on the road, we need to encourage safer driver behaviors and stronger laws to combat distracted driving. This hands-free bill would expand the current law and make it illegal for a driver to hold a handheld communications device while operating a moving motor vehicle.”
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia now ban the use of handheld devices while driving. According to a study conducted by the Georgia Legislature, in 12 states traffic fatalities decreased an average of 16 percent within two years of passing a handheld ban.
“Distracted driving is a growing epidemic in South Dakota and across the country,” said Schneider. “Increasingly, drivers are posting on social media, scrolling through Spotify playlists, live streaming video, and binge-watching television shows. These activities put motorists, their passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists in real danger. With HB 1169, lawmakers have an opportunity to address distraction-related motor vehicle crashes and fatalities in South Dakota.”