Residents in Missouri who are concerned about their safety and the safety of their family members on the road may often wonder why they continue to see so many people texting while behind the wheel. All around the country, awareness about the dangers of distracted driving has prompted almost all states to enact legislation expressly banning such actions by drivers. Only Missouri, Montana and Arizona have yet to pass any laws making texting and driving illegal.
A recent report by KHQA indicates that Missouri is finally taking steps toward a statewide ban on handheld use of cell phones for all drivers, with some exceptions such as for emergency responders. The current laws in Missouri only ban texting and driving by drivers between the ages of 16 and 21.
If passed, the new law would allow law enforcement officers to ticket drivers for using their phones in handheld mode while actively driving or even while stopped at a traffic light, at a traffic sign or at a standstill in heavy traffic. The fines would be higher for drivers found using their phones in school zones or active construction zones with workers on duty.
The effort to ban handheld phone use among drivers is spurred in part by data that shows the number of motor vehicle accidents in which distracted driving was found to be a contributing factor jumped by 35% between 2014 and now. The data also shows that the problem spans drivers of all ages, not just those who are 21 years of age or younger.