While Governor Noem poses with her anti-China TikTok ban, another ban on really dangerous online activity isn’t working very well, says one Sioux Falls legislator.
Outgoing Representative Doug Barthel (R-10/Sioux Falls) says the ban on TikTokking, Tweeting, or texting while driving that he pushed through the Legislature in 2020 (see House Bill 1169) still hasn’t gotten through most drivers’ thick skulls:
“I just hope there’s some people who got the message and it’s having an impact on them, but to be honest, the majority of people probably ignore the law and still use their phone in the car how and when they want to,” said Barthel, R-Sioux Falls.
In South Dakota, 250 people were killed or injured in car accidents attributed to distracted driving in 2021, according to the state Department of Public Safety, though experts acknowledge the number is probably much higher due to difficulty in proving distracted driving after an accident has taken place.
Distracted driving was listed as a contributing cause of accidents in South Dakota in 2020 at a higher rate than speeding, disregarding a traffic signal, improper passing, over-correcting, and swerving to avoid an object, according to state crash data. Among teen drivers, 58% of those involved in an accident were distracted at the time of the crash, the state DPS said [Bart Pfankuch, “Dangerous, Potentially Deadly Distracted Driving Remains a Hard Habit to Break in South Dakota,” South Dakota News Watch, 2022.11.29].
The Chinese aren’t killing us with TikTok; we’re killing each other by prioritizing the latest viral video over keeping our eyes on the road. Give Representative Barthel a nice parting gift: put down your phone and drive.