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Proposed Bill Would Fight Distracted Driving

According to KRCG TV, Missouri is considering a new bill that limits using a hand-held cell phone while driving. This law would bring Missouri in line with most other states and is the strongest bid yet to reduce distracted driving accidents. Currently, Missouri and Montana are the only states without a texting ban.

What the Bill Would Do

Currently, Missouri only prohibits those under the age of 21 from texting and driving. Older drivers are free to use their phones as much as they want. The new law would change that.

If adopted, the proposed bill would amend two sections of Missouri law. First, the bill defines “distracted driving” to include using an electronic wireless communication device to read, view, write, or send an electronic message. The law also prohibits using one of these devices to watch videos or view social media posts, as well as play games. The most common electronic wireless device is, of course, a cell phone.

The law does provide an exception, however, if you can use the cell phone by pressing a single button while seated. Essentially, this means you can use your phone if it is in a holder. The law also provides an exception if you are using the device for help with navigation or to call emergency services.

Those under 21 are still prohibited from using a hand-held cell phone for any reason other than for help with navigation or to contact emergency services. However, the law does allow younger drivers to use hands-free or voice-activated phones.

Second, if you are convicted of distracted driving, a judge can suspend or revoke your license. This change puts some “teeth” into the law and gives motorists an incentive to follow it.

Distracted Driving is a Real Problem

Driver distraction is a leading cause of accidents, and cell phones are a primary source of distraction. Although technology has many useful purposes, it can also take a motorists’ eyes off the road and at least one hand off the driving wheel.

According to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, 577 people in the state have been killed in a distracted driving crash. Thousands more have suffered serious injuries and financial losses.

The Proposed Bill Doesn’t Go Far Enough

The proposed bill is certainly a good start at promoting driver safety. However, it probably doesn’t prohibit enough cell phone use. Drivers can still use a phone provided they don’t pick it up with two hands.

The primary danger with cell phone use, however, is cognitive distraction. Motorists who send or read a text message remain distracted long after they finish the text. Although both hands might be on the wheel, the driver’s mind is elsewhere. As a result, drivers might not really “see” a pedestrian stepping into the crosswalk or a car turning in front of them. Many accidents will continue to occur.

Contact Us for Help After a Crash

Call & Gentry Law Group, LLC can help if a distracted driver slammed into you. Please call us today to schedule a consultation at (573) 644-6090.