City council members pass ban ordinance after public input, disc - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

City council members pass ban ordinance after public input, discussion

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It was a unanimous vote among Sioux Falls city council members, 7-0, to ban texting while driving.

Here's a look at the proposed ban with its approved new wording.

"No person may operate or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while using a handheld electronic communication device to compose, read, or send an electronic message when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic."

The new wording adds  handheld to the ban and eliminates GPS and navigational systems from the list of devices.

"I wasn't surprised because I heard there was a lot of support. I know there's a lot of sentiment against it. I was very grateful, it makes me relieved as a parent," parent Susan Simko said.

People from both sides spoke out during public input. Many of them in favor of this ban saying distracted driving of every kind needs to stop.

"A lot that is lost is the simple fact that we're supposed to be driving," parent George Hamilton said.

There were those who say a ban would make the driving situation worse.

"People will act the way they want to act. You can't just pass a law and expect reality to magically change," Tracy Saboe said. "People are going to do what they want to do, but they're going to be texting beneath the windows so cops can't see them, then their eyes are off the road that much more."

When Sioux Falls Police Chief Doug Barthel came forward, so did the tough questions.

"What am I doing? Clearly distracted but am I texting or looking up a phone number? And would you give me a ticket?" Councilor Greg Jamison asked.

"We're going to have to prove through visual evidence we obtain or statements you might make. It's very possible that they can take it another step further and seize the phone, obtain records. Do I see officers doing that? Highly unlikely. If there was an accident, injuries, certainly we would do that, we do that now," Chief Doug Barthel said.

"I think it'll work itself out, just having the ban in place will make people think twice and be careful about what they're doing, people of all ages," Simko said.

Council member Kermit Staggers had an unexpected out-of-town trip come up so he was not able to attend the meeting, Tuesday night.

He doesn't believe his absence would have any bearing on the vote. He told KSFY this is 'feel good legislation'. He said "most people will vote for it and in reality, technology exists for verbal texting."

The law will take effect at the end of this month.

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