The state House is considering several bills that would ban texting and other uses of mobile devices while driving.
Missouri law only bans texting while driving for those 21 and younger, and no other laws regarding the use of cell phones while driving.
A state House Committee heard bills that would either ban texting while driving by anyone, ban the use of mobile devices by people paid to drive passengers, or ban the use of mobile devices unless they’re equipped to be used hands free.
Representative and former state highway safety director Nate Walker (R-Kirksville) sponsors a ban on texting while driving.
“I’ve witnessed legislators texting on the road, I’ve witnessed other people texting on the road, and if it wasn’t for the rumble strips that are on the road I think you’d have double or more wrecks,” said Walker.
Representative Michele Kratky (D-St. Louis City) proposes banning all use of cell phones unless they’re equipped to be used hands-free. Some have told her that would be government intrusion on drivers’ freedom.
“The problem is nobody’s worried about person out there that gets hit by one of these persons that are texting while driving, and those are the people we should be concerned about. The people that want to be driving on our roads in a safe manner,” said Kratky.
A bill similar to Kratky’s is sponsored by Representative Cloria Brown (R-St. Louis).
Representative Galen Higdon (R-St. Joseph) is proposing for the second straight year a bill that would ban cell phone use by people who are paid to drive passengers.
“You have a life that’s in your vehicle that you’re responsible for that should require your utmost attention. If it’s that important, pull over,” said Higdon.
No one testified against those bills but several spoke in favor of them, including college student Jamie Palermo, who supports the ban after having a crash herself two months ago when going to class in Fulton.
“Literally I was looking down to say, ‘No, I’m not going to call you,’ and I looked down, looked back up, and there were brake lights. I was in the fast lane, I was going about 70.”