Missouri lawmakers are searching for a way to implement a ban on texting while driving.
Missouri has a ban against texting while driving for those under the age of 21 and bus operators. Texting while driving, although discouraged, is legal for drivers over the age of 21.
Missouri has seen a major move toward safer driving in 2019. In January alone, two bills have been introduced into the Missouri General Assembly to ban texting while driving.
Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Mo., submitted Senate Bill 15 to the Missouri Senate, which was read by the Senate Jan. 9 and read again Jan. 17. In addition, Rep. Greg Razer submitted House Bill 211 to the Missouri House of Representatives, which has also received multiple readings. The bills paralleled each other, having similar punishments and fines for texting while driving, no matter the age.
Maryville Public Safety Director Keith Wood showed support for the change to Missouri’s distracted driving laws.
“[Texting while driving] is just as bad for a young person who is comfortable with what they are doing and can do it quickly as it is for somebody like myself that is going to take your eyes off the road,” Wood said. “Probably longer than a young person would do the same thing.”
Wood showed distaste for texting while driving no matter the age of the person doing so.
“I would not mind seeing texting banned from driving period,” Wood said. “I know that one of those bills that I did read had cell phone use in its entirety restricted short of a hands-free device.”
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, they saw a 33 percent increase in texting while driving misdemeanors for drivers under the age of 21 from 2015 to 2016. In 2015, the number of texting and driving misdemeanors totaled 57, and in 2016, the total increased to 76.
This information was both surprising and displeasing to many students on campus. Many expressed concern for the lack of coverage the law gave. Junior Alex Young was among the group of surprised students.
“I guess I kind of thought it was illegal,” Young said. “It’s still a danger for everyone, even if it’s older people on their phones.”
Senior Lyzzie Wary disapproved of texting and driving, no matter the age of the perpetrator.
“I don’t think it’s safe for anyone to text and drive,” Wary said.