Legal Lens: Distracted driving a growing problem in Missouri

Legal Lens

The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS – Thousands of people have died in the United States due to distracted driving in the last three years, with hundreds of thousands more injured in those crashes. But what are the laws regarding texting while driving in Missouri?

Andrea McNairy, managing attorney at Brown & Crouppen, says distracted driving has become a major issue in recent years.

“A study by AAA revealed that electronics use is the leading source of distracted driving for teens and that car crashes related to distracted driving have increased by over 30% in Missouri just since 2014,” she said.

Where does Missouri law stand currently on distracted driving, because legislation is being considered at the moment?

“Just last session, I believe there were four different bills—maybe more—introduced, but they got them too late to pass them, but this is a hot topic in Missouri right now,” McNairy said. “Because we are only one of two states besides Montana where texting is not outlawed for all drivers. Specifically in Missouri, if you are over 21 and not a bus driver or have a CDL license, you are allowed to text while driving.”

Are there any arguments against passing legislation?

“One of the most common counterpoints to a texting ban is people claiming they should be able to text while driving because they feel like they are being safe while doing it and mostly because it’s a personal liberty and personal right,” McNairy said. “However, every state besides Missouri and Montana has passed it. And passing anti-texting bills can reverse the trend of people getting into crashes because of distracted driving and cellphone use.”

Is there a difference between illegal and negligence when it comes to distracted driving?

“Just because Missouri allows drivers over 21 to text doesn’t mean if you cause a crash, that does not mean you aren’t legally liable for that,” McNairy said.

In fact, she says you can still sued and have points added to your driving record.

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