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Aberdeen Considers Texting Ban

June 10, 2013, 5:02 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Aberdeen Considers Texting Ban

Aberdeen could be the next South Dakota city to ban texting behind the wheel.

The city attorney will present council members with a proposal at their Monday meeting. Sioux Falls was the first city to ban texting and driving; Huron soon followed, along with Brookings and Watertown. Vermillion and Mitchell banned texting behind the wheel last month.

The public has mixed reactions to the Aberdeen proposal. Along with texting, it would ban sending or receiving e-mails or composing any electronic messages.

"People need to pay attention to their driving. I personally have taken a pledge not to text while driving," Kent Johnsen said.

"Putting a ban on it would stop some things. It's not like it's going to make it any worse," Crystal Madsen said. "I think people are going to do it regardless."

The city attorney and law enforcement are working together on the proposed ban. They did the same in 2008 when the city considered banning almost all cell phone use behind the wheel. Council members eventually voted down that idea.

"I do think the attitude's shifted,” city attorney Adam Altman said. “At the time there weren't as many state laws. I think people are beginning to see how dangerous it really is."

This ordinance differs in that it still allows people to talk on a cell phone while driving. They can also send messages through voice commands, if it doesn't require touching the phone.

"If they want to put a ban they can put a ban and people are either going to risk it or they're going to be fine with it," Madsen said.

Under the current proposal, violators would have to pay a fine. Altman says officers would keep violators' cell phones and hold them as evidence.

Police in Aberdeen wear cameras on their heads. So, if they see someone texting behind the wheel it should be on camera, making it easier for prosecutors to prove.

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