Missouri lawmakers look to expand texting while driving law

Even though we are only a few months in 2014, six separate bills have already been introduced in the Missouri legislature seeking to change the state’s texting-while-driving law. Most notably, all of the bills introduced aim to expand Missouri’s current texting ban to encompass all drivers, and not just those aged 21-years or younger.

While it is obviously still too early to know if any of these bills will come to fruition, the fact that so many have been filed in such a short period of time certainly suggests that lawmakers are taking highway safety seriously. Indeed, any reduction in driver distraction ― such as the distractions associated with texting ― will likely result in fewer Missouri car accidents.

Proposed changes to Missouri texting-while-driving ban

As referenced above, current Missouri law only prohibits drivers from texting while behind the wheel if they are 21-years-old or less. Specifically, the law states that no one "twenty-one years of age or younger" shall drive a motor vehicle in Missouri while using a "hand-held wireless communications device" ― such as a cellphone or blackberry ― to write, read or send a text message. Although, it should be noted that Missouri's current texting ban also applies to all commercial drivers, regardless of age.

Importantly, even though all of the recently introduced Missouri bills seek to eliminate the 21-year-old limitation contained in the current texting-while-driving law, there are several varying aspects to these pieces of legislation.

For instance, while two of the bills ― H.B. 1282 and H.B. 1316 ― expand Missouri’s anti-texting law to include all drivers by simply eliminating any reference to an age limitation within the statute, House Bills 1256 and 1964 not only remove the age limitation but create an expressed exception to the texting ban for drivers who use voice-activated hands-free technology. Interestingly, the remaining two bills ― H.B. 1106 and S.B. 840 ― go even farther than merely expanding the texting ban. In fact, these two proposals will, if passed, prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cellphones to text or take part in phone calls while behind the wheel.

Seek legal assistance if injured

Sadly, until some further action is taken ― whether legislative or on an individual level ― texting while driving is likely to continue plaguing Missouri roadways. Accordingly, if you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent driver who was more concerned with texting then keeping his or her eyes on the road, it is typically best to speak with an experienced car accident attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can assist in investigating your accident and help explain your rights and options.