Our View Driving

Driving seems simple enough on paper, but once a cellphone is added to the mix it can turn from an easy trip to the grocery store to one that ends in tragedy.

The majority of college students do not go anywhere without their cellphones. This includes in the car. We are told texting while driving is dangerous and illegal, but this is not the message Missouri lawmakers are sending. Senate Bill 15 which was introduced in December is intended to fix the ever growing issue of distracted driving in Missouri.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, an average of nine people die every day as a result of distracted driving. This is preventable if people did not use their phones while driving.

There is a large population of students and adults who drive who are in danger every time they get behind the wheel. While it tends to be associated primarily with teenagers and young adults, it is also an issue that adults are dealing with.

According to the Teen Safe Organization, 77 percent of adults and 55 percent of teens believe they can manage to text while driving.

The law states that as long as a driver is over the age of 21, they can legally operate a mobile device while also operating a motor vehicle. While lawmakers in Missouri want to change this law and make it illegal to operate a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle, it is, unfortunately, coming a little too late to help those who were victims of distracted driving-related accidents.

Missouri is one of three states that do not have a ban on texting while driving. This puts the state behind the ball in protecting the people on the road. Missouri is guaranteeing an increase in risk whenever getting behind the wheel if Senate Bill 15 is not passed.

In 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a survey that revealed one out of five teens believe texting while driving affects their personal driving performance.  

The Department of Motor Vehicles attributes texting while driving as a myriad of distractions for drivers as it encompasses visual, manual and cognitive distractions to the driver, causing their focus to shift from the road to their phone.

The Teen Safe Organization recommends placing the phone on silent while driving as a way to reduce the likelihood of feeling the need to check one’s phone while driving.

Missouri is making progress, but it needs to enforce laws similar to others in the nation. States like Nebraska and Iowa have banned the use of handheld wireless devices while operating a motor vehicle, but those are classified as secondary enforcement laws, which means a driver must be pulled over for another violation before facing the penalties of texting while driving.

Texting while driving is not safe and it could result in having to say goodbye to someone way too soon. Use common sense and put the phone down while driving.

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