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Watertown Texting Ban Proposal Still Alive

October 25, 2012, 6:09 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Watertown Texting Ban Proposal Still Alive

If you've gotten in the habit of ditching your cell phones while driving in Sioux Falls, you might not want to pull them out when driving north either.

Watertown's texting ban hasn't passed yet, but it's cleared one hurdle.  It faces an additional one as well.

The city attorney has drafted a texting ban ordinance. The public works safety committee has looked it over and passed it on to the city council to discuss. But the mayor wants to get more input before that happens.

Watertown resident David Ristvedt supports a ban.

"They cause too many accidents and it's a very dangerous thing to do. People should be paying attention," Ristvedt said.

But as the city discusses a ban, it's considering issues such a law would pose.

During a public works safety committee meeting, officials questioned if it would be enforceable. They also questioned where you draw the line in a texting ban as technology evolves and some can now text in a car without even touching a phone.

"So those are some of the issues that were brought up that I think we need to talk about a little more," Mayor Gary Williams said.

After mixed reviews from the first committee, Williams is sending the proposal to the city's finance safety committee as well. He doesn't want to see people texting behind the wheel. But he wants to further examine if an ordinance is the answer.

Ristvedt understands there would be challenges to the law.

"So it's going to be hard to enforce but just by passing the law, maybe it'll cut it down," Ristvedt said.

As the potential ordinance moves forward, the city is also weighing the fact that distracted driving laws that could cover texting already exist.

The finance safety committee will look at the draft mid-November so the mayor says the city council wouldn't consider it until December.

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