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Sauk Prairie Distracted Driving 1

Administrative Assistant Melissa Sumwalt, Superintendent Cliff Thompson and School Board Members Richard Judge and Tyler Erickson speak with one another before their school board meeting begins.

The Policy Committee of the Sauk Prairie School District forwarded Aug. 12 a new policy to be voted upon by the school board at their next meeting.

The proposed policy, which would be a newly established one for the district, seeks to forbid drivers from using their mobile devices such as cell phones with at least one hand while operating a school vehicle.

“Distracted or inattentive driving is when a driver engages in any activity that might distract them from the primary task of driving — and increases their risk of crashing,” the policy reads. “While many motorists may perceive driving as a routine activity, attentive driving is critical as the traffic environment changes constantly and drivers must be prepared to react. Attentive driving is especially important when operating a school district vehicle and/or transporting students… Drivers of school district vehicles are prohibited from reading/composing/sending text messages and emails, accessing the Internet, or using a hand-held wireless device while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic—including stopped traffic or at a traffic light. Accessing the internet for navigation or other purposes must occur while the vehicle is in park.”

Since the July 22 Policy Committee meeting, new text was added to the policy before handing it off to the school board for a vote at their next meeting. The new text includes a definition for “PCDs” or personal communication devices, specifies navigation directions can be used, and makes an exemption for the Citizens Band Radio, a two-way device installed for communication between District vehicles.

Lamers, the bus company used by the School District, currently has its own policy regarding distracted driving, but the district was interested in implementing a more restrictive policy.

Lamers permits hands-free operation of mobile phone, such as using voice commands. Sending and receiving texts and calls is only permitted when vehicle is stopped and not moving.

The School Board will vote upon the proposed policy at their next meeting.

Other Business

The donation of $8,000 to the school district from the estate of Bill Aylward, a former Sauk Prairie Middle School teacher, was accepted and recognized by Middle School Principal Ted Harter.

“$8,000 is a substantial donation,” Harter said. Aylward’s donation will be allocated to three groups: Cross Country, Builder’s Club, and the Green Team.

Harter said Aylward was known to be “passionate about students being active and forward thinkers.”

A plaque will be installed in the school courtyard recognizing Aylward’s donation.

You can reach Jake Ekdahl on Twitter @JakeaEkdahl or contact him at 608-697-6353

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