JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Eyes on the road, not on your phone. That’s what Senator Greg Razer of Kansas City is saying. At the moment in Missouri, only drivers who are 21 and under are prohibited from texting and driving. But, Senator Razer wants that law to apply to everyone.
“Myself included, we’ve all been guilty of this,” Razer said. “But when we look at it we realize that this is really dangerous for yourself, for other motorists on the roads and other Missourians that are traveling. It’s a bad habit we have to break ourselves of.”
Razer says Missouri is one of only two states in the country without a law that bans drivers from using their cell phones while driving.
“Something needs to be done,” Razer said. “We see another state just merely putting it the law and having those reports in the media bring down the number of distracted driving incidents that we see in the state. So this bill would just make that illegal. You could still use a hands-free device. I still use Apple CarPlay. That would be fine. But it’s reinforcing that idea of, ‘Set the phone down. Let’s focus on the road. Keep our eyes on the road and keep everybody safe.”
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) says the state averages 75 deaths per year as a result of distracted driving. Jon Nelson with MoDOT says that number only represents the incidents his agency actually knows about, and there likely are a lot more fatalities out there.
“Sadly more than half of the people killed in our distracted driving crashes in Missouri are someone other than the distracted driver,” Nelson said. “Certainly as Missourians I think we can all agree that we want to do our part to allow people to get to where they need to go safely.”
Nelson says MoDOT believes changing public policy could go a long way towards making Missouri roads a lot safer.
“Certainly that cell phone is an issue that we see on a regular basis,” Nelson said. “Not just in the crash reports, but also from a daily interaction in our work zones. Something that we would be supportive of some efforts to make the state safer in that regard. We’re not telling people not to have a cell phone or to use a cell phone, but when you’re the one responsible for operating that vehicle and you’re sharing that roadway with other vehicles, other pedestrians, let’s make good choices. That call or that text can absolutely wait until you’re in a safe environment to do that.”
OzarksFirst also gave chance viewers a chance to weigh in on the topic online.
- Bill Osborne: “100 percent in favor of this. I was almost killed by a driver who was texting.”
- Britny Lawson: “100 percent yes. I have a hands-free Bluetooth device that I can answer a phone call if need be. Remember people, text messages and social media can wait till you’re done driving.”
- Sharron Schellman: “It’s not the device that is a problem. It’s the distraction that causes wrecks. Perhaps something all-inclusive for distracted driving would be more appropriate.”
- Debra Vestal: “No hands-free device, No phone! Dangerous just driving and with kids!”
- Mason Page: “It shouldn’t be illegal to answer a phone call if you don’t have Bluetooth.”
- Larry Holton: “With some Bluetooth devices, you still have to pick up and look at the phone, slide the screen or push other buttons. It’s actually harder to answer than the phone itself.”