Two bills would ban texting and cellphone use while driving

Missouri is one of just a handful of states that does not ban texting and driving

Missouri lawmakers are considering two bills that would expand the state's current distracted driving laws, according to the Missourian. One of the bills proposed would ban texting and driving for all motorists in the state, while another bill would go even further and ban all use of a hand-held device while driving. Currently, Missouri is one of just six states that does not ban texting and driving for all age groups, despite increasing evidence that distracted driving is accounting for a growing share of overall car accident injuries.

Two bills proposed

Missouri currently only prohibits drivers under 21 and people operating a commercial vehicle from texting while driving. Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas are the only other states that have a similar such ban only applying to young drivers, while Arizona and Montana have no texting and driving bans, according to ABC 2 News. All other states and the District of Columbia ban texting and driving for all drivers.

The two bills proposed would change that situation in Missouri. The first proposal, which appears to have considerable support from lawmakers, would ban texting and driving among all age groups. The second bill has proven to be somewhat more controversial as it would ban all use of a hand-held device while behind the wheel of a car. While the latter measure may appear to be going too far, advocates say that only banning texting and driving is not enough. Enforcing a texting and driving ban is particularly difficult since drivers pulled over on suspicion of texting can simply claim they were using their phones for some other purpose. Proponents of banning all hand-held devices while driving say that a wider ban would prevent drivers from relying on such a loophole.

Dangers of distracted driving

The need for a greater focus on distracted driving is shown by the staggering number of people killed each year in distracted driving crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that in 2012 3,300 people died in crashes caused by distracted driving, while 421,000 were injured. In fact, distracted driving injuries rose by 10 percent from 2011 to 2012, likely due to more people using their cellphones while behind the wheel.

Despite the fact that motor vehicle fatalities and injuries overall have declined in recent years, distracted driving accidents appear to be increasing. With approximately 660,000 drivers estimated to be on a hand-held device while driving every minute, distracted driving now accounts for one-fifth of all accidents in the United States.

Motor vehicle accidents

While texting and driving may not be explicitly banned by Missouri law yet, distracted driving overall is a crime in the state. Whenever a driver is not paying attention, he or she is putting every other driver at risk, and that includes when his or her eyes are on a phone rather than on the road.

Those who have been injured by a driver who may have been distracted should get in touch with a personal injury attorney. The aftermath of an accident can be confusing, but an experienced attorney can provide accident victims with the guidance they need to understand what next steps are available to them.