JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, has pre-filed a bill to ban the use of handheld cell phone during motor vehicle operation. Currently, only drivers over 21 are permitted to use devices while driving. The bill, SB569, was the first pre-filed in the senate.
The bill is similar to bills filed in the past by Pearce.
Reps. Cloria Brown (HB 1542), Nate Walker (HB 1423), and Keith English (HB 1377) have also filed bills to do the same. Brown’s and English’s bills allows for hands-free use, while Walkers bill specifies no use on highways.
Currently, 19 percent of drivers of all ages admit to surfing the web while driving according to DoSomething.org. The organization also shares that looking down at a phone for 5 seconds, the minimum amount of time required to send a text, equates the length of a football field on a highway and texting while driving makes a car accident 23 times more likely.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, Missouri and Arizona currently have the most lax laws in the nation on cell phone use while driving. Forty-six states plus Washington D.C. have an all-driver text messaging ban, while 14 states have a complete ban against the use of handheld devices while driving. Thirty-eight states, plus D.C., also have total bans on handhelds for novice drivers.
Full language should be available on each bill in the coming days.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.