Drivers in South Dakota will soon have to start keeping their eyes on the road much more of the time, rather than looking at their electronic devices.
That’s because Governor Kristi Noem has signed into law HB 1169.
It prohibits many uses of electronic devices while driving and replaces the weakly-enforced current law against most texting that the Legislature passed in 2014.
Two Sioux Falls Republicans, Representative Doug Barthel and Senator Deb Soholt, led the way to get the new law approved.
They credited a Castlewood couple, Jeff and Lesa Dahl, for convincing them to try again.
The Dahls’ son Jacob died when his car ran into the back of soybean truck. He was taking a photo with his phone.
Jeff Dahl called Barthel to talk about it. Barthel told Dahl they needed to share their painful story with lawmakers.
The couple presented their tale of deep personal loss to House and Senate members at hearings this winter. Some legislators spoke against the bill, but no witnesses formally came forward.
“Jeff and Lesa Dahl’s testimony had a huge impact in committee and there was hardly a dry eye in the room as they spoke. It was very convincing,” Barthel said Saturday.
“When I saw that the governor had signed the bill and it would finally become law, the first person I called was Jeff Dahl. He said it was the best news he’s heard in a long time. Making that phone call made all of this work worth it.”
Barthel and Soholt had tried somewhat similar legislation last year that passed the House but failed on a 17-17 tie in the Senate.
Read the full story on KELO.