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Missouri Lawmakers Debate Texting While Driving Ban

The Missouri House committee is currently considering a statewide ban on texting while driving. The ban has support from safety advocates and many lawmakers. Last year a similar bill was passed by the House, but died in the Missouri Senate.

A tragic Missouri texting while driving accident was highlighted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in its national push to encourage all states to ban the nonemergency use of cellphones behind the wheel. In the August 2010 accident, a teen driver was sending and receiving multiple text messages in the moments leading up to a fatal collision on Interstate 44. The teen’s pickup, two school buses and an 18-wheeler were involved in the wreck. Two people lost their lives, including the teen driver, and over 30 were injured.

Action Being Taken By Missouri Legislators

Some who opposed the bill questioned how the ban would be enforced. Others argued that by simply making texting while driving illegal, fewer drivers will engage in the behavior.

A majority of the states, 35 plus Washington D.C., now ban texting while driving for all drivers. Any hand-held cellphone use while driving is banned in nine states and the nation’s capital.

According to a recent National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) survey, almost 90 percent of drivers own cellphones. A majority, however, do not feel their driving is impacted by using a mobile device. The report explained, “Most do not believe that their own driving is affected when they use these electronic devices, but they feel very unsafe when riding as a passenger with another driver who is talking on a handheld phone or texting.”

Generally people support bans on cellphone use while driving. The effectiveness of such bans, however, is still up for debate. According to a Highway Loss Data Institute study, there was not a decline in auto accidents after such bans were enacted in several states.

Source: Kansas City Star, Missouri House committee reviews texting ban, Elizabeth Crisp, 2 April 2012