Texting and driving editorial cartoon

Texting and driving editorial cartoon

While it’s a good idea to carry your cell phone with you while driving, talking or texting while your vehicle’s wheels are turning is another matter.

Missouri legislators have filed at least six bills that, if passed and signed into law, would restrict cell phone use for drivers.

Excessive speed, distraction, impairment and fatigue are the top four factors that lead to traffic accidents, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation. It seems lawmakers are ready to tackle the state’s distracted driving problem.

Missouri law bans any driver younger than the age of 21 from texting while driving. There is also a ban on texting while operating a commercial vehicle. However, cell phone use behind the wheel remains largely legal and prevalent throughout the state.

Many other states, including neighboring states such as Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois and Iowa ban all drivers from texting.

Missouri is one of three states, along with Arizona and Montana, that don’t ban texting and driving for all motor vehicle operators.

Fifteen states have bans on any hand-held cell phone use a by a driver, while 21 states have outright prohibitions against phone use and 38 states have cell phone limitations for teen drivers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In 2018, there were 918 deaths on Missouri highways and roads, down from 930 the previous year. A St. Louis Post-Dispath report from Jan. 23, 2019, states that cell phone-related crashes rose by 35 percent.

Some of us, apparently, can’t go an hour without making a call, texting or checking our favorite apps.

MoDOT, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety are working to bring the death toll on Missouri roads in 2019 below 900. Part of their efforts include lobbying the Missouri General Assembly to pass laws that would limit cell phone use behind the wheel—an attempt to curb distracted driving.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol, ironically, has its own cell phone app available on Apple and Android platforms. Users can report unusual activity to the state police agency through the app. Users can also receive alerts, news and traffic information on the app. The Highway Patrol advises drivers to use the app while stationary, not while driving.

It’s time for Missouri lawmakers to do what’s already happened in 47 other states and pass a law against texting and driving for drivers of all ages.

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