JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Senate gives first-round approval to a bill that would ban texting while driving.
Missouri is one of only two US states without a law that prohibits people over 21 from texting while driving. Right now, it is only considered illegal for drivers 21 and under to text and drive.
Potential avenues to change that seem to have bipartisan backing. Democrat and Republican lawmakers both introduced legislation this year to combat distracted driving.
The bill making the most rounds lately is SB 56, sponsored by State Sen. Jason Bean (R-District 25). This legislation would require hands-free cell phone use for drivers of all ages. A first-time violation would mean a $50 fine and two points against the driver’s license. Repeat offenses could lead to enhanced penalties.
Bean’s bill would have allowed police to pull someone over for texting while driving. Lawmakers have amended the bill to specify that a person could only be charged if they were stopped for some other reason. The bill needs one more Senate vote before going to the Missouri House.
The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety reports that in nearly three of every four distracted-driving crashes over the last five years, the driver at fault was over 21 years old, thus not banned from texting while driving.