A distracted driving law recommendation proposed by a safety committee this week wasn't strict enough for the Huron City Council.
The recommended law would have made it illegal to drive and use an electronic device if you were a school bus driver with kids on board, a driver with a learners permit or under the age of 18. Any other distracted driver, whether eating or talking on the phone, could be ticketed if the distracting behavior causes dangerous driving.
The council said it wants texting while driving to be illegal regardless. It also asked that the electronic device ban cover drivers with a restricted license, a learner’s permit and a bus driver with kids on board.
Before presenting a distracted driving ordinance to the city council, the safety committee's chair looked at hundreds of laws in place elsewhere.
"There were some things that we saw that were common and that's what we put into our recommendation," Gary Will said.
Will is also Huron’s chief of police. He wasn't surprised when the council wanted to add a blanket texting ban to the ordinance.
Josh Krech lives in town and liked the original idea better. People would have only received a ticket if texting affected their driving.
"I know a lot of people who can send long text messages while they're driving and not have any problem at all. They can drive down the middle of Dakota and send like a three-page test. Then I know people who can't type three letters without swerving into the next lane," Krech said.
But the council saw it as enough of a problem to specifically target texting in the law.
If it passes, the ordinance would still ticket drivers for other distractions that cause them to be unsafe. Keeping that portion of the law was important to Will. He says a man who was eating pizza behind the wheel recently ran a stop sign and struck a child on a bike.
"Luckily for him, he was able to jump off just as the car hit the bicycle. He suffered a leg injury. The bike went underneath the car and the driver went 64 feet in that 20 mile per hour zone before he stopped and he only stopped because people were yelling at him to stop who witnessed the crash. He had no idea he had hit anybody or that there was even a bicycle under his car while he was driving," Will said.
Many question the enforceability of a texting ban. Will came to Huron from a state with a texting ban and says it is enforceable.