House panel backs bill to expand texting while driving ban

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A House panel has endorsed a bill that would expand the state's texting while driving ban to mostly prohibit mobile device use by people behind the wheel.

The House Transportation Committee voted 12-1 Tuesday to advance House Bill 1088. Republican Rep. Doug Barthel, the sponsor, says distracted driving is not safe.

Right now, drivers can't text or email when operating a vehicle, but they must be pulled over for a different violation for it to be enforced.

The new bill would increase the penalty for device use while driving and make it a primary offense, which means motorists buried in their phones could be stopped for it.

Using a navigation app, making a telephone call or operating in hands-free mode and using a device during an emergency would still be allowed.