Rapid City teens advocate in Pierre for teen texting bill - KOTA Territory News

Rapid City teens advocate in Pierre for teen texting bill


South Dakota legislator's green light four bills aimed at improving teen driving. And it's not without input from Rapid City high school students.

"If you're going 55mph, and you look down at your phone for five seconds, you will go the length of a football field," said Courtney Denett, a student at Steven's High School in Rapid City.

The group of four Steven's High School students may seem to be an unlikely group to advocate for increased restrictions on teen driving.

"We're not trying to take away people's rights, but we're looking out for the safety of everyone," said Molly McCaskell, a student at Steven's High School in Rapid City.

Monday, a handful of students from Steven's High School lent their voice to legislation in hopes of lowering South Dakota's startling teen driving statistics.

Nationwide, 8% of teen deaths can be attributed to car crashes. In South Dakota, that number has more than tripled to 25%. Those figures have Senators taking notice.

Senate bill 106 would prohibit the use of wireless communication devices for anyone under 16 with a learners or restricted permit.

"It's a changing world with mobile devices and our job as legislatures is to change with the world and change with technology," said Senator Shantel Krebs, district 10. 

Nut some lawmakers saw some clear enforcement problems with the teen texting bill.

"How do we enforce this? You're putting a burden on law enforcement officers. Don't we have a careless driving law for that?" said Senator David Omdahl, district 11.

"I would go back to say most people, especially kids obey the law when there is a law," said Senator Craig Tieszen, district 34.

But for these Steven's students, there's too much at stake to stop now.

"I think a lot of the time we're distracted more than we think we are. A lot of time little things can make a huge difference," said McCaskell.

The teens advocated for four teen driving bills Monday.

All passed through the Senate Transportation committee, including a bill to limit how many passengers a teen driver can have, how long they must have a permit before an official license and the establishment of a state wide driver education program.

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