SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) - Missouri ranks the third worst state for driver safety laws, according to a new report from State Farm.
It’s one more reason state lawmakers are taking action to crack down on distracted driving.
Lawmakers in the Missouri House and Missouri Senate have proposed six bills that would ban texting and driving for all Missourians instead of just prohibiting it for drivers under the age of 22.
Josh Chrisman is a driver and motorcyclist from Sikeston, Missouri.
He tells me he often sees people on their phones while they’re driving, and its not just teenagers but people of all ages.
“I spend a lot of time out on the roads so I’ve seen first hand people texting and driving and coming into my lane," Chrisman said. "You have to honk to wake them up and get them back to reality.”
Chrisman hopes any new texting and driving law would make it easier to hold distracted drivers accountable and in turn make our roads a little safer.
“I would hope they can get something done about it because I’ve seen to many accidents and had to many close calls,” Chrisman said. “Matter of fact this intersection is where I’ve almost been hit the most. I think it’s going to take a lot of effort because people have gotten in the habit of doing it, and it’s hard to break habits. You’ve got people who are going to keep that mindset of you’re not going to tell me what to do either so.”
Just like Missouri’s current seat belt law, right now texting and driving is a secondary offense so even if police see you doing it, it can not be the only reason they pull you over.
“I think its frustrating because if you did not see another violation you have to find another reason to stop that car and if it was primary you could’ve just stopped them and giving them a warning," said Bruce Mullin, a school resource officer with Sikeston DPS.
Mullin hopes any new law will make it easier for officers to enforce and it turn encourage safer driving.
BRUCE MULLIN WITH SIKESTON D-P-S THINKS HOPE THE NEW LAW WILL MAKE IT EASIER FOR OFFICERS TO ENFORCE AND IN TURN ENCOURAGE SAFER DRIVING.
“Some people might not even think about that they’re doing something wrong or unsafe until you bring it to their attention. Hey your doing something that could possible harm yourself or others.”
State Senator Wayne Wallingford who represents six counties southeast Missouri is behind one of the proposals, Senate Bill 15, which was recently read at the Transportation, Infrastructure and Public safety committee.
The bill would impose a $50 to $100 fine if your are caught looking at your phone behind the wheel but would allow drivers to make phone calls using a ‘hands-free’ device.
Chrismas thinks those devices will help but not solve the issue all together.
“Hands free calling definitely comes in handy. I use it a lot in this car,” Chrismas said. "But at the same time carrying on a complex conversation for very long time can still be a distraction even if you are not holding something up to your face or your ear or looking directly at it.”
The other texting and driving bill proposals in the Missouri House are HB 50, HB 68, HB 74 and HB 223.