It's cleared the South Dakota Senate, but the fight over getting a proposed texting while driving ban all the way to the highway is anything but a done deal.
Proponents say a statewide ban must happen, in part, to keep things consistent across the state as more and more cities pass their own ordinances. Sioux Falls came first with a texting ban taking effect last fall. Whether drivers are sticking to the law or not is still a sticking point.
“I think the safer you can make the roads is fine by me. I'll obey the law,” said Ryan Medici.
Medici does admit he skirts the Sioux Falls ban when he drives in town.
“Sometimes I figure I'm at a stop sign, I can text something out real quick before it starts up again,” Medici said.
The Sioux Falls ban spurred three other texting bans in South Dakota cities.
Legislators pushing for a border to border ban say it'll help keep everything consistent across the state.
“I think they should,” driver Marina Atak said. “A lot of damage happens and lately a lot of people lost a special person because of texting and driving.”
But do Sioux Falls drivers change their habits once they leave the city limits? That question is apparently just as polarizing as when we asked if they text and drive at all.
“No. You have to focus,” Jarica Gant said. “Just because you know how to drive doesn't mean everybody else knows how to drive. So you have to watch out for other drivers.”
“When you can see for miles and there's no one around you, you probably let your guard down a little more,” Medici said.
The proposed state ban outlaws text-based communication on wireless devices while operating a motor vehicle. It makes exceptions for hands free or voice activated texts.
“I actually got a new smart phone too and it's got the voice messaging. I'll probably get used to using that,” Medici said.
The bill passed the South Dakota Senate by a 24 to nine vote. It potentially has a large hurdle to pass in the House of Representatives.
This state bill would also take precedent over texting bans enacted locally.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, South Dakota is one of six states to have no ban at all.