South Dakota Teen Drivers May Have to Hang Up the Cell Phone - Siouxland News - KMEG 14 and FOX 44

South Dakota Teen Drivers May Have to Hang Up the Cell Phone


(NORTH SIOUX CITY, SD) If you don't have your official South Dakota driver's license, you may need to put your cell phone down and out of sight.

We've seen the dangers of texting and driving, but what about talking and driving? Some South Dakota legislators say that should be a thing of the past for young drivers.

So, how are teenagers taking the news?

"I like being able to answer calls and I think it would be weird not being able to use your phone," says Claire Johnson, a Dakota Valley High School freshman.

"Thumbs down," says Sara Bohan, a Dakota Valley High School freshman.

"There could be an emergency and you may need to answer your phone, but you'd have to pull over," says Britney Fischer, a freshman at Dakota Valley High School.  

Unanimously opposed.

Right now, teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18, must get a learner's permit first, before getting their restricted license.

The bill would limit them from using a "wireless communication device." That includes talking on the phone.

The Driver's Education teacher at Dakota Valley says it's a step in the right direction.

"Distracted driving is, I mean that's by far the biggest thing that we have issues with, causes of accidents, and it's so hard with, at that age, for them to realize when they think they're invincible, nothing's going to happen to them, and they can do it," says Jeff Hamm, Dakota Valley High School Driver's Ed teacher. "And I think not only the cell phones, I think the passengers, as well, in the car can be a distraction, and then you put both of them together."

A recipe for disaster that a new law could help avoid.

"One problem, I always have in class is, we would talk about texting and driving, and they would say is it illegal? Well, right now, in South Dakota, it's technically not. There's no law that says it is illegal. So being able to, I think it will have a bigger impact to say it is illegal," says Hamm.

When asked if they use their cell phone while driving, these teens said yes.

"If someone calls me, most of the time, I'll pick it up, or first I'll see who it is, like if it's my parents, and I'll definitely pick it up," says Bohan.

"I just use it to call, I don't text and drive," says Fischer.

"Whenever someone calls me I'll answer it but if it's like, my mom, I'll just say I'm driving and I usually just hang up," says Johnson.

A unanimous response among these teens. But it appears South Dakota lawmakers are ready to tell them to hang up.

Today, the bill passed through the state Senate Transportation Committee and will move on to the House and Senate in Pierre for a vote.

The committee also proposed a statewide coordinated driver's education system to include standards for course content, instruction, testing and certification of instructors.

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