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Texting and driving ban gets city’s approval

Posted: Wednesday, Dec 5th, 2012

HURON — Texting and driving becomes illegal in Huron city limits around the first of the year after the City Commission gave second and final reading of an ordinance for the ban.

The action follows similar ordinances passed recently in other South Dakota cities. But proponents are also looking to legislators to finally approve a statewide ban in the upcoming session.

A resolution passed by commissioners sets out the penalties for those guilty of texting and driving and for distracted driving.

After the measures are published, a 20-day waiting period will follow. When the ban takes effect, law enforcement officers will give drivers a grace period as they educate them about the risks of texting while operating a vehicle. Huron has had a high number of accidents tied directly to drivers who were texting and not giving their full attention to the road.

Texting and driving will become a primary offense, meaning officers can pull someone over for that violation regardless of any other infractions.

But texting and driving will only be against the law if the driver has the vehicle in motion on a public street. It will also still be permissible to receive and read a text while driving.

The ordinance also makes it a primary offense for school bus drivers to use a mobile phone or other electronic device, even with hands-free accessories, while the bus is in motion and carrying passengers. That also goes for those with instruction permits or restricted minor’s permits.

However, the driver of a bus may call school officials or 911 in the event of an emergency.

Distracted driving will become a secondary offense if the driver is pulled over for driving dangerously.

The penalty for the primary offenses is $100 plus $60 in court costs, while the fine for distracted driving as a secondary offense is $15 plus $60 in court costs. Court costs are subject to change from year to year.

Signs will be placed at the entrances to Huron to inform drivers of the new ordinance.

No public comments were received at the meetings as the commission considered first and second final reading of the ordinance the past couple weeks.

Commissioners also:

• Approved a request from the Huron Chamber & Visitors Bureau to provide in-kind support in terms of dirt work and preparation of three large rodeo arenas should a proposal from the chamber and State Fair to host the National Junior High Final Rodeo in 2016 and 2017 be approved.

It is the second largest rodeo in the country involving about 1,000 contestants and 1,550 entries over a seven-day period.

Chamber Executive Director Peggy Woolridge said local planners are working to recoup some of their expenses because hosting the event will be a massive undertaking.

The challenge will be in having enough hotel and motel rooms although Huron can offer an excellent camping venue.

If Huron is among those communities offering what is considered to be a competitive bid, its formal presentation will be given in Dallas in January. The decision will be announced in February.

Beadle County commissioners approved a similar in-kind request last week.

• Approved the regular full-time status of Steve VanWinkle, parks and recreation department construction technician, after completing his probation.

• Renewed the city’s joint cooperative agreement with the Northeast Council of Governments for 2013. The local share is $2,920. NECOG assists cities and counties with grants and their administration.

• Set a Dec. 17 hearing date for the transfer of a 2012-2013 retail on-off sale malt beverage and South Dakota farm wine license from The Coffee Tree to Aroma Inc. at 110 Third St. S.W. Suite 105 and a 2013 retail on-off sale wine license for Aroma Inc. at the same address.

• Renewed liquor and wine license applications for 2013.

• Had a work session to review capital asset purchases for 2013.

For the complete article see the 12-04-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 12-04-2012 paper.

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