We have all witnessed people driving while talking on their cellphones. It is very common in Missouri. So far laws to address this problem have been very limited.
The accident percentage has risen in the state of people who were talking on their phones and were involved in traffic crashes. The number of cellphone-related crashes in Missouri has increased by 35 percent since 2014. It is one of the fastest growing causes of fatal crashes in the state, according to Jon Nelson, a highway safety assistant for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).
There have been bills introduced in the General Assembly for years to limit the use of talking on a cellphone while driving, but most haven’t advanced and have been watered down. Just about everybody admits it’s a problem, including the talkers who usually say they are careful and so they don’t pose a hazard to themselves or others.
It’s a fact that talking on a cellphone while driving is a distraction, one that has the potential to cause an accident. Most of us have observed a person getting into a car, starting the engine, driving off and up comes the phone. For them, it’s a habit — a dangerous habit. Most of the calls aren’t that necessary. We also have observed drivers who get a call and exit to a shoulder, if there is one, to answer and talk. That is somewhat rare.
There have been at least six separate proposals introduced to be considered in this session of the General Assembly to restrict the use of cellphones when driving.
One bill would ban texting for all drivers, or face a $50 fine that would double in a work or school zone. It should be at least a $100 fine.
There is a state law that prohibits texting for drivers under the age of 21 and which pertains to all commercial motor vehicle drivers. Those who violate the texting and driving law could be fined $200 and have two points added to their driving record.
Again, Missouri is behind many other states that have banned texting and driving for all age groups. Sixteen states have banned handheld phone use by all drivers.
If drivers use common sense they won’t talk and text while driving. Problem is too many don’t use common sense and they are a potential hazard to all of us.