Missouri lawmakers once again weighing texting and driving ban - KMOV.com

Missouri lawmakers once again weighing texting and driving ban

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- The official numbers have yet to be released, but It appears Missouri roadways are becoming deadlier.

Motor vehicle fatalities are expected to jump by eight percent in 2016.

Missouri lawmakers heading back to work Wednesday want to address the danger and will be considering a ban on texting while driving.

The issue has been debated for the past three legislative sessions and has failed each time.

Currently, Missouri law says if you're over 21 you can text while driving. Some say there should be no age exceptions and all drivers should be banned.

One driver News 4 spoke with says banning texting for all drivers should be a "no brainer."

She says a woman she used to work with was one of the worst drivers she's seen.

“She'd be paying attention to her phone while the car was moving and I feared for my life,” said University City resident Jessie Pierce. “It's so reckless.”

Supporters of the universal ban have backing from larger groups as well.  Mike Right with AAA has come out supporting a texting ban for drivers of all ages.

“Texting is probably the most distracting activity a driver can engage in while operating a motor vehicle,” Right said. “It not only affects you physically cause you're dealing with texting but your vision is focused on the phone as is your mind...Your mind is off driving, your vision is distracted.”

Lawmakers will be debating Senate Bill 165 which has already been pre-filed for the upcoming legislative session.  The bill would allow texting if a hand-free voice activated device is being used.

But even that has some critics.

Right says hands-free doesn't necessarily mean risk-free as it still is a distraction for drivers.

Right says ironically, the Missouri law bans younger drivers from texting but they're the ones who grew up texting and are more adept at it.

Currently, 46 states have laws banning all drivers from texting and driving. Right says one study shows that states that have texting bans have 17% fewer people texting while driving.

Some opponents to the law cite concerns about personal freedom. However, many drivers look at texting and driving as just as serious a threat as other offenses.

“People are like,’Well the government shouldn't have that much of a hand in it.’ But I think it's on par with drinking and driving, stuff of that nature,” said Springfield resident Ross Weis.

“If it decreases the amount of accidents by one or two percent why not try to make that a law?” added Springfield resident Laura Liang.

Right acknowledged the concerns facing an outright ban, but said the issue is too important to ignore.

“I think there's a notion in Jeff City that this would move us closer to a nanny state and people don't want the government telling them what to do. Well the government tells you what to do an awful lot of time. This is an important thing that the government ought to be telling you not to do,” he said.

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