Many studies have shown that a driver using a cell phone can be as impairing and dangerous as driving drunk. At 35 mph, a two-second glance at your cell phone in the seat next to you means you have traveled over 100 feet on the road without looking. Plenty of things can and do happen in 100 feet. This has led state legislatures to pass laws that restrict the use of cell phones while driving.
Can you talk on your cell phone while driving in Missouri?
The state has few laws on the books that dictate cell phone use while driving. Missouri does not have a hand-held ban in place, and the current laws allow young drivers to talk on a cell phone while driving as soon as they get their licences.
What states is it illegal to talk on the phone while driving?
Although no states have yet to pass a law that bans all cell phone use for all drivers, many have laws dictating who can use these electronic devices and how they can be used.
- 38 states and Washington D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice and teen drivers.
- 21 states ban any cell phone use by school bus drivers.
- 16 states ban hand-held cell phone use for any driver but allow you to make phone calls on a hands-free device.
- 47 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have an all-out ban that makes texting while driving illegal.
Missouri’s Distracted Driving Laws
Is it against the law to text and drive in Missouri?
Currently, Missouri is one of three states, including Arizona and Montana, that has yet to outlaw texting and driving outright. However, in Missouri, it is illegal for drivers under 21 years old to send, read, or write electronic messages while driving.
Penalties for texting and driving in Missouri
The penalties for texting and driving for those under the age of 21 are a $200 fine and points against their license.
The texting law in Missouri is a primary enforcement offense. An officer can stop a driver who is texting and driving without needing another reason to do so. If the law were a secondary enforcement offense, a driver would have to be breaking the law another way for the officer to pull them over.
A proposed Missouri law would ban text messaging while driving, making the state one of the last to do so
Missouri’s texting laws could change soon with a series of bills that has been introduced to the state legislature. Historically, the Republican legislature has ignored pleas from MODOT to adopt some restrictions on cell phone use and implement any sort of texting and driving ban. There are now six bills pending that range from an all-out ban on any cell phone use to prohibitions on texting for all drivers to more moderate restrictions that would ban use of phones in school zones. The House Bills include House Bills 50, 68, 74, 211 and 223. Senate Bill 15 is also pending.
2019 may be the year Missouri joins the rest of the country in adopting some common sense laws to try to prevent some of the most avoidable types of crashes on our roadways.
Missouri Car Crash Statistics
In 2018 there were 922 fatalities on our roadways. The top causes of these crashes continue to be driver impairment, distraction, speed and fatigue. A report from the Missouri Highway Patrol says that of all the people killed in Missouri motor vehicle accidents, nearly 40 percent were between 15 and 35 years old. The most overrepresented age group in fatal accidents is 15 to 24-year-olds, who made up nearly 20 percent of all vehicle fatalities.
In 2017, there were 2,600 crashes in Missouri that involved cell phone use, leading to many personal injuries. Law enforcement suspects this number is low because this metric only represents cases where people admitted to using their phone after a crash.
The truly tragic thing is that most of these accidents are preventable. Drunk driving, cell phone use, and speeding are all factors that are completely under the control of the driver. Car manufacturers have begun adding some incredible high-tech safety features to the cars such as lane assist and emergency braking, which you would expect to reduce the number of fatal car accidents. In addition, over the last few decades, there has been increasing awareness about the dangers and consequences of drinking and driving. We can see this especially in Uber and Lyft as they increase their popularity to become commonplace apps used across all age groups.
Despite these technological and societal changes, we are not seeing the number of roadway deaths drop as we would expect. Many experts believe that is due to the increasing use of cell phones while driving.