This statistic has not gone unnoticed by legislators in states across the nation, nor has it gone unaddressed. Recently a group of South Dakota lawmakers have chosen to embrace a cadre of new recommendations aimed squarely at reducing the incidence of teen injuries and fatalities caused by vehicle collisions. This new package of recommendations was approved by the state’s Senate Transportation Committee and includes a provision which would ban new drivers from using any sort of handheld device behind the wheel until they receive an unrestricted driver’s license.
They also recommend a new statewide drivers education program using a variety of resources, and increasing the period a teen will have a probationary driver’s license.
The handheld devices ban runs contrary to the legislature’s stance on distracted driving for all drivers. South Dakota remains steadfastly opposed to limiting the use of handheld devices by drivers. The state legislature there has repeatedly failed to pass a distracted driving law of any sort beyond what’s always been on the books regarding reckless driving.
South Dakota has the youngest age requirement in the nation for new drivers at just 14. That means drivers not yet old enough to see a R-restricted movie are operating 3,000 pound vehicles capable of tremendous speed and causing death and destruction. It seems likely South Dakota lawmakers recognize the dangers in this mix of inexperience and risk and are taking at least some steps to improve public safety.