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Missouri lawmakers keep pushing for more comprehensive texting ban

Currently, Missouri law bans texting and driving for motorists 21 years of age and under. However, attempts to expand that law have continually been met with resistance in the state legislature, even though there are now some 37 states across the country that have completely banned texting while driving. At the local level, five Missouri cities have prohibited their use, though the statewide law continues to apply only to those 21 and under. This controversy rages notwithstanding the fact that a 2010 truck accident on Interstate 44 in Franklin County became the focal point of a nationwide effort to ban cellphone use while operating a motor vehicle.

The truck accident in 2010 occurred when a pickup rear-ended a big rig cab that had been reducing speed on I-44. After crashing into the back of the rig, the pickup was in turn rear-ended by two buses full of high school students in the midst of a band trip. Two people were killed and 38 injured as a result of the collisions. The subsequent investigation documented that the pickup driver was sending text messages on his cellphone at the time of the crash.

Some of those Missouri legislators who are opposed to the new law argue that it is superfluous because authorities already have the option to charge any driver using a cellphone with a violation of the requirement for careful and prudent driving. Nevertheless, statistics confirm that approximately 11 percent of all motor vehicle accidents within the state in 2010 were attributable to cellphone use, though no distinction was made between simple cellphone use and texting.

While it remains to be seen how this political debate will finally be resolved, those in support of the law believe it will help prevent collisions like the 2010 truck accident and thus make the state's roadways safer for all.

Source: KMBC, "Efforts To Expand Mo. Texting Law Again Fall Short," May 5, 2012

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