Missouri lawmakers look to limit cellphones behind the wheel

1 year 5 months 1 week ago Sunday, January 27 2019 Jan 27, 2019 Sunday, January 27, 2019 1:37:00 PM CST January 27, 2019 in News
By: The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri lawmakers have introduced at least six separate proposals since last month to restrict the use of cellphones while driving.

Missouri has seen the numbers of cellphone-related traffic crashes increase by 35 percent since 2014, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Cellphone use is "one of the fastest growing causes of fatal crashes in Missouri, and like most other contributing factors, it's completely preventable," said Jon Nelson, a highway safety assistant for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

There were almost 920 fatal crashes in Missouri last year, down slightly from about 930 fatalities last year, according to the department's preliminary figures.

"When it comes to cellphones, nobody wants to be on the road with a driver constantly using their phone, but so many people find it acceptable to do themselves," Nelson said. "We can do better."

Republican Sen. Wayne Wallingford has introduced legislation to ban texting for all drivers, or face a $50 fine that would double in a work or school zone.

State law currently prohibits texting for drivers under the age of 21 and commercial motor vehicle drivers. Those who violate the texting and driving law could be fined $200 and have 2 points added to their driving record.

Most states have already banned texting and driving for all age groups. Sixteen states have banned hand-held phone use by all drivers, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.

But Missouri's Republican-led has struggled to garner support for restrictions to cellphone use behind the wheel. Lawmakers have introduced eight separate proposals in the past two years to limit cellphone use while driving.

This legislative session, Reps. Nate Tate, Gretchen Bangert and Greg Razer have introduced bans on using cellphones while driving. Other proposals target cellphone bans in school zones.

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