Perryville bans texting and driving for young drivers - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Perryville bans texting and driving for young drivers

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PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) - You hear about it, you see it and you might even be guilty of doing it yourself.

Texting and driving bans are becoming more common across the country as states attempt to crack down on distracted driving.

Now, one Heartland city's taking its own action.

Unlike some other states, there's no law in Missouri banning all use of cell phones while driving. But for young drivers, it's illegal to text and drive.

One Missouri town is updating its local ordinance to discourage distracted driving.

"Anything that's safer for our young people and the population is a wonderful thing for our city," said Perryville Mayor Debbie Gahan.

Mayor Gahan said the city's prosecuting attorney noticed some ordinances weren't in accordance with current state law.

So in a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance to ban texting and driving for anyone 21 years old or younger and all commercial drivers.

"That's basically what this is. It's kind of a housekeeping ordinance clean-up," said Mayor Gahan.

According to Missouri Revised Statute Section 304.820 a similar law went into effect statewide in August of last year.

By updating the local ordinance to reflect that, the City of Perryville could also benefit financially.

"Generally fines do go back in to the city's municipal fund," said the mayor.

Perryville officers say they've issued few, if any, of these citations since the state law took effect.

While ticketed drivers may be few, texting and driving still happens.

"It does worry me because people don't pay attention to what's in front of them," said Perryville resident Chris Parker.

"I ride a scooter and I've almost been knocked off by a couple people who were texting," Mayor Gahan said. "It's easy to drift a lane. It's easy to miss a light change and we've all seen the horror of things like that on facebook."

Mayor Gahan said she hopes this is the start of a more intense crackdown on distracted driving.

"I think it would be the smartest thing that we could do. You know over in Illinois I think you can't even be talking on your cell phone. So I think that any time there is a distraction when you're behind a multiple thousand pound piece of equipment traveling at 50-70 mph it's just a bad mix."

You might be wondering who gets the money if you get fined?

Well, it depends on the officer issuing the ticket. If a highway patrolman pulls you over in city limits they'll probably cite state law, but a Perryville officer would probably cite the city ordinance.

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