Senate Bill 3 aims to ban texting and driving for those over 21

The bill is sponsored by state Sen. David Pearce of Warrensburg.

Although it can be difficult to pull away from our virtual lives, a new Missouri bill up for debate hopes to accomplish that while behind the wheel.

Senate Bill 3, currently filed in the Missouri Senate, would count texting and driving as a moving violation for people of all ages, not just those under 21 years old. Despite its goals to increase road safety, there have been mixed feelings on the need to pass the bill.

Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, said similar bills have been proposed and failed in Missouri before.

“It’s a very important safety issue,” he said. “We actually passed a bill four or five years ago that prohibited texting and driving for those under 21 years old. We had comments from people asking why not everyone was included in the law. So it’s been a goal of ours to increase the number of people following it.”

Pearce said the bill will be incredibly helpful.

“We have to start somewhere,” he said. “Driving and typing is unacceptable. When you are texting and driving, you are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident. It is more dangerous than drunk driving.”

Pearce said when people text and drive they’re not only putting themselves at risk, but also those around them.

“Safety trumps everything,” he said. “If someone is only hurting themselves, it’s something, but when there are other people at risk, that’s a different story.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving a vehicle while texting can be six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Another report by NHTSA states that (driver distraction was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal car crashes in 2012.)[/http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812012.pdf] In addition, 11 percent of drivers 18-23 years old who were involved in a vehicle accident admitted that they were texting when the accident occurred.

“Sometimes there are emergencies and people need to get ahold of others,” freshman Stephanie Sandoval said. “It would be unjust for someone to get a ticket because of an emergency call. I definitely think it would decrease the number of accidents that happen each year.”

The bill tells people what they already know, Sandoval said.

“People just need to be responsible and use their head,” she said. “We all know texting and driving can lead to accidents. We don’t need a bill to tell us that.”

The bill is needed, MU junior Chris Williams said.

“(I’m) conflicted,” he said. “Texting is distracting, but I would be upset if I got a ticket for it. There is a need for it, though.”

Missouri resident Alexis McColpin said she has a different view on the issue.

“That’s reasonable, because adults are fallible too,” McColpin said. “It’s not like once you turn 21, you are immune to getting in an accident.”

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