Bills aimed at thwarting teen driving distractions have cleared another hurdle in the South Dakota legislature.
The House Transportation Committee voted to send Senate Bill 106 and Senate Bill 216 to the full House for a vote. The first bans cell phone usage for teen drivers under 16. The second establishes a Driver Education Curriculum.
“I think we all should just have the same law and it'd all be good. Sixteen year olds, I think, are worse at doing that kind of stuff,” teen driver Jamal Albousafi said.
“It is a huge distraction for even me, and texting is kind of a problem. But I do think if something were to happen like a car crash, your phone can be needed,” teen driver Kate Cartwright said.
It's no secret even adult drivers have a hard time concentrating on the road. Experts say when teens are involved, the distraction levels rise even more.
“They are cell phones, texting, their radios, someone in the car eating, getting their soda, someone beside them,” Sioux Falls O’Gorman High School Driver Education Instructor Doug Basche said.
Basche has spent decades watching teens behind the wheel. His reaction to the legislative action: It's about time.
“I'm glad to see that they're starting to take it seriously. We need to do something about this issue of teen driving,” Basche said.
He is also encouraged by the state-wide drivers' education curriculum also being proposed. Few options exist now. For years, he's made his own. Still Basche thinks the legislature could do more.
“The curriculum is important, but I think what we really need to focus on is driving time. They just need more experience,” Basche said.
And for those under 16 that experience could be cell-phone free.
“It'd be hard to 15 year olds to not have their phone with them,” Cartwright said.