4/17/2014 - Attempt to ban texting and driving
For the first time in 2014, a new state is trying to become the latest one to pass a ban that would prevent motorists from texting while behind the wheel, putting the country that much closer to a nationwide prohibition on the practice.
South Dakota Sen. Mike Vehle of Mitchell is the latest legislator who is trying to make the ban a reality. Should he be successful in his attempt, it would be the first time a state disallowed the distracting driving behavior since August, when Illinois. Gov. Pat Quinn signed a similar piece of legislation, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"I want to make it a culture shift," said Vehle, The Associated Press reported. "It's not safe to text and drive."
This isn't the first time an attempt has been made to make texting while driving something that's unlawful in the Mount Rushmore State. In 2013, a bill was introduced in the legislature, but it was ultimately killed by the House Judiciary Committee when studies were introduced by opponents to the measure, indicating that all-out prohibitions don't do much to reduce the rate at which auto insurance claims result from this type of multitasking.
"To me, it's not about tickets," Vehle told the AP. "It's not about fines. It's about safe driving. You've got your eyes and your mind off the road. That's the dangerous part."
VTTI: Texting increases crash risk 23 times
Numerous studies point to the increased risk motorists pose both to themselves and to their fellow commuters by texting at the same time as driving. One of the more well-known statistics comes from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which found that motorists who engage in the practice are 23 times more likely to get into an accident than those who keep their attention on the road.
Should the law have a better fate than the last time the ban was tried, nearly 85% of the U.S. would have legislation on the books that makes the behavior illegal, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association as well as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
April is Distracted Driving Month all across the U.S., a time where safety officials put a greater focus on what is becoming one of the more common ways Americans get into crashes while driving. In 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board called on federal lawmakers to pass a bill that would make texting and driving unauthorized in all 50 states.