South Dakota bills intended to increase safety on roads

| 2/6/2008

Highway safety is the theme of multiple bills offered for consideration in the South Dakota statehouse this year.

The House voted 65-1 to move a bill to the Senate that would allow retractable studded tires on trucks and other vehicles year-round. State law now limits the use of studded tires from October through April. They must be removed for the rest of the year.

Sponsored by Rep. Tim Rave, R-Baltic, the bill would allow truckers and other drivers to keep the special tires on all year. Rave said the change makes sense because retractable studded tires are now available.

The bill – HB1170 – is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

Another bill would permit parents to become driver-education teachers for their children. The only requirement would be that the parents are good drivers.

Sponsored by Rep. Manny Steele, R-Sioux Falls, the measure – HB1153 – would prohibit parents from being certified driver-education teachers if they lost their driving privileges within the past year. Conviction of drug or alcohol offenses also would exclude them from the expanded authority.

Prospective drivers would be required to receive 30 hours of classroom instruction from their parents and 55 hours of behind-the-wheel training.

Completion of the driver-training requirement could allow students to advance from a learner’s permit to a less-restrictive minor’s permit in 90 days, instead of the usual six months.

A separate bill is intended to increase the use of seat belts on roadways throughout the state. South Dakota law requires all front-seat occupants of motor vehicles to buckle up. Children younger than 18 must wear seat belts no matter where they are located in vehicles.

Violating the child provision in the law is a primary offense resulting in $20 fines. The distinction allows law enforcement to pull over drivers without another reason.

Sponsored by Rep. Joni Cutler, R-Sioux Falls, the bill – HB1197 – would require seat belts for all occupants in motor vehicles, regardless of age.

A separate effort in the statehouse, however, to permit police to pull over drivers solely for not being buckled has died. The Senate Transportation Committee voted 6-1 to kill the bill – SB147.

Cutler’s bill is in the House Health and Human Services Committee. Steele’s bill is in the House Education Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for South Dakota in 2008, click here.