I thought Florida’s texting law was weak, but apparently, Missouri has Florida beat hands down.
Missouri’s law on texting and driving applies to those under twenty-one years of age. No other state that I know of has an age-restrictive ban, which means if you turned twenty-two years old today, you can text and drive all you want. Or worse, you are seventy-four years old and texting and driving.
A pending bill being pushed by Republicans, House Bill 1298, may make the ban on texting and driving applicable to everyone, regardless of age. The bill includes provisions for the use of cell phones hands-free. Like most states, there have been attempts in the past to introduce similar legislation.
When it comes to texting and driving, what most of the general public fails to understand is that it is more dangerous than driving under the influence. I base my logic on the fact that there are more people on the road using their cell phones at all hours of the day and night, versus those under the influence of alcohol. In today’s world, the leading cause of motor vehicle accidents is attributed to distracted driving.
Three years ago, the Missouri Highway Patrol estimated 19,000 accidents for the year of 2015 that were related to cell phone use. Approximately 8,000 of those accidents involved injuries. That’s a whopping 42% which includes 113 fatalities.
My personal experience of riding through Missouri was not a positive one. In 2015, riding back from Sturgis, South Dakota, we spent a night of camping at Mark Twain State Park. By early afternoon the following day, we rode to St. Louis and of course, took the obligatory pictures with the Gateway Arch in the background. From there, we were riding out to Shawnee National Forest. After riding for a few minutes on I-64, I took the next exit off the highway and took back roads the rest of the way. I was surprised by the aggressive driving, to the point that it reminded me of Miami. Now combine aggressive driving and texting, and the result is lethal.