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State To Launch New Campaign Against Texting & Driving

June 27, 2014, 10:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

State To Launch New Campaign Against Texting & Driving

When South Dakota's texting and driving ban takes effect next week, the state will also launch a public education campaign to get people to quit.

Run through South Dakota Office of Highway Safety, the state will spend about $200,000 in the year-long campaign.

Director Lee Asdahl says the highway safety office is intentionally running radio ads. People across the state will start hearing those ads next week.

"We want it to be heard as you're getting ready to drive to work, as you're getting ready to go in your car and leave the office,” Axdahl said. “We want you to hear it in the car as well.”

The bill lawmakers passed making texting behind the wheel illegal also called for the public education campaign.

South Dakota Department of Highway Safety has already been involved in efforts to combat texting while driving. It's run ads online and on TV simulating crashes caused by texting behind the wheel.

The new campaign will be larger than past efforts and it will send an updated message.

"The act of texting behind the wheel is almost more of an addiction than it is anything else and that you have to address the addiction," Axdahl said.

Robin Hall of Watertown isn't sure how effective an ad campaign will be in changing drivers' behaviors. Having had close calls with texting drivers herself, she's hopeful punishments will make a difference.

"I think they need to get a ticket and see what really happens. Too many people have gotten killed," Hall said.

Axdahl describes texting as a habit almost engrained in some people's reflexes. Regardless of state efforts, he acknowledges it'll take time for some of those behaviors to change.

The highway safety office will run a half dozen radio commercials. Axdahl says some are jarring, but he hopes they send a strong message.

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