Proposal would ban texting while driving

Sen. Rob Mayer (R) - Dexter
Sen. Rob Mayer (R) - Dexter

By Christy Hendricks

Texting while driving is a hot topic in the state of Missouri.  Most drivers admit it's a dangerous habit, but should it be illegal? A lot of state senators are throwing their weight behind a bill that would make texting and driving a crime.

While most people agree text messaging while driving is dangerous, a lot of people still do it.

"I agree with the concept but I am guilty of text messaging while driving," said Marlee Price, visiting Missouri from Mississippi. 

"Yes I done it," said Elisha Williamson of Sikeston.

"I've done it lots of times really," said Patricia Parks of Poplar Bluff.

If a proposal in the Missouri Senate is passed into law, it would mean offenders could face a $200 fine and it would go on a person's driving record. 

Senator Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) amended the proposal to include this lesser infraction.

Originally the bill carried a sentence of up to 15 days in jail and possibly a $300 fine if convicted.

"I agree that people while driving a vehicle need to have their focus on operating that vehicle and not on texting," Mayer said. "I think that's very dangerous.  I do have some reservations about the enforcement of this law."

"I think it will be hard to enforce because if a policeman pulls you over and he says you're doing it, it's going to be hard for him to prove it or not," said Mary Price, visiting from Mississippi.

State Senator Jason Crowell (R- Cape Girardeau) says he likes the idea, but agrees it would be difficult to enforce.

"From my standpoint, it's really a law that does nothing," Crowell said. "It's too difficult to enforce, it's too difficult to prove."

Texting while driving has proven deadly. Stefany Tillman, 24, died in a crash in Pemiscot County in December 2008.  She had been texting moments before she lost control of her car.

Some people I spoke with had dangerous texting experiences as well.

"There was a tire in the road so I had to stop suddenly and the guy behind me was texting and he didn t see me stop and so then he rear-ended my car," said Andi Griffin of Swinton.;

Another issue that's been brought up, if texting while driving is made illegal, what about putting make-up on, eating or even reading while driving? Could that be next?

"This type of amendment on that piece of legislation could lead to other conduct or behavior being illegaled," said Mayer.

But he was quick to point out...

"I think it's got a long way to go.I'm somewhat skeptical whether it'll become law.

At least seven states have laws against texting while driving.  Many others are considering it.