Driving distracted: what not to do when you’re on the road

Distracted driving is a main cause of deadly crashes in South Dakota.
Distracted driving is a main cause of deadly crashes in South Dakota.(Kate Robinson)
Updated: Dec. 25, 2022 at 12:12 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - 2020, a new law was passed in South Dakota regarding distracted driving. By passing the law, lawmakers hope to prevent distracted driving and lower the number of people engaging in risky behaviors behind the wheel.

In South Dakota last year, 250 people were killed in car accidents credited to distracted driving.

Distracted driving in South Dakota leads to more deaths in car accidents than speeding, disregarding traffic signals or signs, improper passing, over-correcting, and swerving to avoid objects.

Distracted driving can look like many different things, and odds are, if you are doing anything but looking at the road while driving, you are distracted.

“Distracted driving looks like any other vehicle that can’t maintain its lane in the roadway or any kind of odd behavior coming from a vehicle that isn’t what people would consider normal. A distracted driver is going to be someone that’s not going to be able to maintain their lane, maybe their speeds are going to fluctuate. The dangers of distracted driving could be as simple as even just leaving your lane a little ways or it can be as serious as crashing and ending up with a fatality of an individual when it’s not meant to happen,” says Kellen Hood, South Dakota Highway Patrol.

The 2020 law made it illegal to use a phone while driving unless in an emergency. By making the infraction a primary offense officers can pull over and ticket a driver for being on their phone while driving.

Some forms of distractions can include eating, talking with passengers, or adjusting vehicle controls.

“The most common is using the cell phone while you’re driving. Making text messages to be sent out or maybe scrolling through social media. Even making phone calls, those are kinds of things that take your attention off of where it’s supposed to be at the time, which is on the roadways, being able to pay attention to the traffic around you,” Hood continues.

With the weather getting colder, driving conditions put drivers at risk-- by keeping an eye on other cars while on the road, you can prevent an accident by reporting a distracted driver, and not being one yourself.

“With severe weather, that just amplifies it that much more. Distracted driving can be avoided simply by just doing your duty behind the wheel and that’s simply just paying attention to the road and the traffic around you. It doesn’t take much to just pull over to the side of the road to answer those phone calls, answer those text messages or emails. That’s probably one of the biggest things that would make roads safer,” Hood concludes.

South Dakota Highway Patrol also suggests that if you have a passenger in your car, have them respond to any messages on your phone, or just hold onto it until you reach your destination.