MITCHELL, SD -
The city of Sioux Falls will officially ban texting and driving in just ten days. The city council unanimously enacted the measure two weeks ago. And now, other South Dakota cities are considering similar bans.
Mitchell is a tourist hotbed every year, with attractions like the Corn Palace bringing in visitors all along Interstate 90. And while the city attracts plenty of drivers, the town itself isn't nearly as big as Sioux Falls. Yet Mitchell's mayor says the community has just as big a problem with texting and driving.
"I think South Dakota is kind of behind in that regard," Mitchell Mayor Ken Tracy said.
Traffic isn't nearly as dense in Mitchell as other cities around South Dakota. But the driving force behind Mayor Tracy's push for a texting and driving ban is the gridlock in Pierre.
"The state legislature has dealt with the issue, but failed to pass a ban on texting (and driving)," Tracy said.
Monday night, Tracy presented the issue to the traffic commission in Mitchell. He doesn't have a timetable for the city, but would like something done by the end of the year.
"There was not any opposition to taking the issue forward," Tracy said.
Drivers around Mitchell seem to agree texting is just another distraction on local roads and would support a ban.
"I think it's a good idea," Mitchell resident Steven Dirkes said. "Too many people are texting and driving; a lot of kids."
"How many years have we been talking about this? Four years now?" Mitchell resident Kayla Charginghawk said. "With all the accidents, I think it's a problem."
Tracy says he's read the Sioux Falls law and thinks Mitchell's law would be similar, if not the same. But regardless of the fine print, he hopes it can influence lawmakers across the state.
"If the legislature is not going to take action on it, maybe if several cities in South Dakota would adopt a ban on texting and driving, then maybe that would provide the impetus for the legislature to do also," Tracy said.
In addition to Mitchell, Huron is also considering a texting and driving ban. It too would be similar to, if not the same as, the Sioux Falls ordinance.
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