Apply cell phone ban to all

Rapid City (S.D.) Journal: The South Dakota Legislature has twice defeated a ban on texting while driving, but a legislative committee may give the issue new life.

The Teen Driving Task Force is recommending a law to prohibit young drivers from using cell phones while driving. South Dakota currently is one of 11 states without a law banning texting while driving.

The panel is also recommending:

That the time required to have an instruction permit to drive accompanied by an adult be extended to one year before teen drivers can get a restricted permit that allows them to drive alone.

That statewide standards be established for drivers’ education course content, testing and certification of instructors.

That a limit be set on the number of passengers who can ride in a car driven by a teen with a restricted permit.

Statistics show that changes in South Dakota teen driving laws are needed for public safety. According to a 2010 U.S. News & World Report study, South Dakota ranks last in safe teen driving. And the state Department of Health reports that motor vehicle accidents account for 70 percent of deaths among teens and younger children in South Dakota.

It is our hope that the legislative panel’s recommendations will lead to changes in the state’s driving laws that will make it safer for teen drivers.

We note that using a cell phone while driving is inherently dangerous, and not more dangerous for teen drivers.

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