A Columbia woman spoke at the Capitol, after her husband was struck and killed by a distracted driver in 2019.

JEFFERSON CITY - April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and AAA Missouri held its own awareness event at the Missouri State Capitol Tuesday morning.

Several advocates spoke at the event, including Adrienne Siddens, whose husband, Randall Siddens, was hit and killed in Columbia by a distracted driver in 2019.

Siddens said she hopes the event helps raise awareness.

"I hope that people take away from this, you know, how impactful you can be on someone's life, just with a very simple thing you do every day."

Missouri is one of only two states in the United States without a no texting law for all drivers. The state does have a law against texting and driving for drivers 21 years of age and under.

Ron Bentch is the Chairman of the Hands-Free Missouri Coalition, a group dedicated to solving the problem of distracted driving. He says the coalition wants to see the state pass a hands-free law for all drivers. Such a law would ban more than just texting.

"Now we have Instagram, we have FaceTime video, we have all of these other things that the law doesn't currently address. Anytime you're holding your cell phone is going to be dangerous," Bentch said.

Part of AAA's campaign against distracted driving compares it to drunk driving, using the phrase, "don't drive intoxicated, don't drive intexticated."

Nick Chabarria is the Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Missouri. He says drivers need to understand that texting while driving is very risky.

"It may seem commonplace for folks to use their phone while driving, but the safety risks are enormous and it can have the same results as drinking and driving or drugged driving," he said. 

Chabarria hopes to see Missouri join other states in banning texting while driving.

"At a minimum, we'd like the state to join the others in outlawing no texting for everyone. Ideally, we'd like to see hands-free altogether, where it would be against the law for anyone to hold their phone in their hand while driving," he said.

Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove is sponsoring House Bill 798, which would create such a ban on texting and driving. The bill was referred to the Committee on Downsizing State Government.

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