PCI Applauds Passage of HB 1230 Making Texting a Primary Offense
PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota House Judiciary Committee took an important step towards making the state’s roads safer today as they voted to approve HB 1230, a new texting while driving law, on a vote of 11 to 2. The bill now moves to the House Floor where the entire House will have an opportunity to reduce distracted driving crashes by supporting HB 1230, says the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).
Despite new safety features and crash-avoidance technology in cars, auto crashes have dramatically increased in the last five years. Distracted driving is thought to be one of the leading causes for the spike in car crashes.
“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,” says Melanie Smith, PCI regional manager for state government relations. “South Dakota has prioritized public safety by banning texting while driving already, but more needs to be done to reduce distracted driving and enforce the law. House Bill 1230, which will make texting while driving a primary offense, is part of the solution.”
Under current law, South Dakota law enforcement cannot pull anyone over for texting unless they see another offense. According to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, the number of crashes linked specifically to distracted driving increased by 9 percent in 2015 (from 1,032 in 2014 to 1,125 in 2015). In 2016, there were over 17,000 crashes causing 116 deaths, 5,174 injuries, and over $103 million in property damage.
“Any time we touch our phone our mind stops focusing on the road ahead,” said Smith. “We are all addicted to our phones, but driving is not the time to check email, send a text, or surf the web.”
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.
“Nationally 3,450 people have died in a car crash involving distracted driving in just one year. This number is not complete because few people will admit after a crash they were texting and driving,” said Smith. “Everyone is busy and we think we can multi-task while we are driving, but we have to change this mindset. We need to give law enforcement the tools they need to enforce South Dakota’s texting ban. This common sense law will save lives and prevent more unnecessary crashes.”