MISSOURI — Don’t drive intoxicated, don’t drive intexicated–a message AAA is pushing after 71 people in Missouri are killed in 2019 from distracted drivers. One state organization is pushing for new legislation to make it a crime for any Missouri driver to use their phones while driving.
If you’re just now paying attention. It’s already too late. Distracted driving and cell phone-related crashes are increasing in the show me state.
Cpl. Joe Kowis, Joplin Police Dept., said, “You can tell just in the general traffic, people not being able to maintain lanes or slamming on their brakes when they’re coming up on somebody because they at the last second they saw the car in front of them stop.”
In Missouri, there is a law that prohibits drivers from sending, reading or writing text messages while driving. But–it only applies to drivers 21 years old and under. But it isn’t an age specific issue.
“Most of the other states have come in mind with texting and driving is not acceptable for any body.”
Missouri is one of two states in the U.S. without a no-texting law for all drivers. But efforts at the state level are trying to change that.
Michael Kelley, Policy Manager, Bike Walk KC, said, “We essentially want to expand on the texting ban and to make it harder for people to, to deincentivize people from speaking and using their phones while they’re driving.”
Bike Walk KC advocates for safe roads and sidewalks for many communities in Missouri, including Joplin. Often times, accidents caused by distracted driving are preventable. Kelley thinks taking steps to make laws tougher on these issues is a step in the right direction.
“I’ve seen the tears, I’ve hugged loved ones. And it is a very sobering feeling that I don’t think anyone is going to want to have to experience. So, as much as I can, I want to look for ways to make the state safer for everyone regardless of their preferred mode of transportation.”
Kelley is planning to meet with legislators in January. Governor Mike Parson dedicated October 16th as Buckle Up–Phone Down Day as a way to raise awareness.