MO lawmakers push for all-driver texting ban - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

MO lawmakers push for all-driver texting ban

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Should Missouri drivers of all ages be prohibited from texting and driving?

If three lawmakers have their way, that change could come as early as August 2016.

Right now, though, Missouri is one of only four states that does not have an all-driver texting ban.

Only drivers under the age of 21 are restricted from using their mobile device to send a message while they are driving.

In reality, police officers in Cape Girardeau say it doesn't matter how old you are, a distraction is a distraction.

"It could be talking on your cell phone, talking to your passenger, adjusting your radio, whatever the case may be, as long as it is distracting you, the chance of being in a traffic crash is much greater," Sgt. Kevin Orr said.

"I think it should be done away, period," Cape Girardeau resident Tom Miller said. "When you're driving a car that should be your main focus and not texting. There's enough accidents as is without someone texting and driving. So, yes, I think there should be a law."

In fact, distracted driving is the leading cause of traffic crashes. According to the American Automobile Association, texting while driving increases the risk of a car wrecks by 50 percent.

"I think a law should be implemented, just because it's the same thing as drinking while driving," Southeast Missouri State University student Timothy Malone said. "You're not paying attention to the road. So, that's probably why there's an increase in accidents while texting and driving."

However, previous attempts to expand the no texting ban in Missouri have failed to move far enough in the house or senate. In the past two years, seven bills banning texting and driving were proposed. But, none of them moved forward into law.

Current measures, including Senate Bill 569, Senate Bill 821, and House Bill 1671, have been discussed among lawmakers in the last two weeks.

Rhonda Whitcomb of Cape Girardeau said there are a lot of car crashes because of people texting and driving. 

"It used to be alcohol and now it's texting and driving, and that's real bad because we all love cells phones," Whitcomb said. "But, we still need to be careful because it's still killing people today. So, yes, I think a law needs to be implemented."

Even without an official law in place, Cape Girardeau police officers are encouraging all drivers to put their phones down and keep their eyes on the road.

"One thing to do is to make sure you pay attention to the road, give the car in front of you plenty of room," Orr said. "One of our biggest causes of crashes in Cape Girardeau is rear end collisions, following to close. Make sure you give that person plenty of room and stay aware of your surroundings."

"I think that there should [be a law] because there's a lot of accidents when you look down you're not paying attention to the speed limit and you can end off on the side of the road and crash," Cape Girardeau resident Ruby Ward said. "And there's a lot of kids and you want the children to be safe."

As for other Heartland states, drivers in Kentucky are prohibited from texting and driving, but can still talk on their cellphones. In Illinois all use of cellphones while your driving is banned.

Hundreds of people shared their opinions about banning texting and driving on the KFVS-TV Facebook page. The majority of comments on the Facebook page supported the ban including other Missouri residents. Several say there shouldn't have to be a law for drivers to be safe, and that there are plenty of other distractions while driving. 

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