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SF Texting Ban Proposal Familiar In Aberdeen

July 11, 2012, 6:17 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

SF Texting Ban Proposal Familiar In Aberdeen
ABERDEEN, SD -

A proposed ban on texting and driving in Sioux Falls is familiar territory in Aberdeen.

In 2008, Aberdeen tried to ban not only texting but talking on a cell phone while driving. At first the city council supported the ban, then unanimously voted it down.

"Well the early response was almost 100 percent favorable," mayor Mike Levsen said. "But then that changed fairly quickly and it seems as though there was perhaps an organized effort by some professional groups in town to make sure they called up to tell us they did not want it."

And there are differences between the two cities’ plans. Drivers in Sioux Falls wouldn't be able to do things such as text, tweet or e-mail on a digital device. Had the Aberdeen law passed, drivers wouldn't have been able to use phone unless they had some sort of headpiece that let them talk hands free.

But even if Aberdeen's ban were only for things such as texting or sending e-mails, Levsen isn't sure it would have passed anyway.

"We hadn't had all that many years to see the real problem of texting at that point so that probably wouldn't have made a difference even then," Levsen said.

Levsen says the council discussed different options for the ban and arguments surfaced regardless of what was included in it.

If Aberdeen considered now what Sioux Falls is, Levsen isn't sure what the outcome would be.

"It would get a lot of council votes. Whether we'd get five, we'd have to see," Levsen said.

He says the main complaint from those supporting the ban in 2008 was drivers not paying attention while using their phones. While opponents said they needed their phones for business purposes.

Levsen says one challenge the city faced when drafting the ordinance is how to define exactly what activities would be banned.

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