Missouri to Expand Texting While Driving Ban

Three Missouri lawmakers have filed texting while driving bills for the January legislative session. All three bills would make texting while driving illegal for drivers of all ages. Offenders could be fined up to $200 and the offense would go on the person’s driving record. Earlier this year, Missouri law went into effect prohibiting texting while driving, but only for those drivers under the age of 21. The new bill is partly in response to controversy over the arguably inadvisable, unfair and difficult to enforce aspect of a law banning only younger drivers from texting.

A Few Statistics

  • In 2008 there were over 600 billion text messages sent, up 4 times from the number sent in 2006
  • The number one source of driver inattention is the use of a wireless device (Virginia Tech/NHTSA)
  • Distracted driving accounted for the deaths of 6,000 Americans in 2008
  • Also in 2008, 800,000 people were either texting while driving or making use of a mobile device with their hands in the U.S. 
  • Cell phone use results in nearly 25% of car accidents involving adults and 21% of fatal teenage car crashes annually
  • Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves (NHTSA, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • 60% of teens text while driving
  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 % (Carnegie Mellon)

New Research and Support for Legislation

According the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, texting while driving bans should be supported because of new research released by the Auto Club of Southern California showing that the texting while driving ban implemented in California in January 2009 appears to be reducing texting by drivers. Following the ban, researchers observed a 70% overall decrease in texting while driving. In a welcome move to protect general safety and welfare, AAA and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety are launching new national legislative and communications campaigns to reduce distracted driving and improve safety on our roadways. 

Texting while driving has reached epidemic proportions and, as borne out by the statistics cited above, is resulting in an epidemic of catastrophic injuries due to motor vehicle collisions, more so in the youth population but occurring at significant amounts in the rest of the population as well. As such, expansion of the texting while driving ban will be a good development for the safety and welfare of all Missourians.

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James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.