Danger while Driving

Exploring Missouri’s laws on texting while driving


Photo by Amanda Mills, USCDCP

A woman seen texting while driving.

In 2020 alone, 3,142 people died due to distracted driving, according to nhtsa.gov. Out of the 50 states in the nation, only two do not have a complete ban on texting while driving: Missouri and Montana, according to ghsa.org. Despite numerous attempts to change this, Missouri legislators have failed to pass one bill banning distracted driving due to pushback from personal rights activists, according to komu.com.

In Missouri, texting while driving (defined by law as writing, reading or sending a text message) is only banned for a driver under 21. Those under 21 caught texting while driving will face a $200 fine and a strike of two points on the driver’s license, all according to kansascityaccidentinjuryattorneys.com.

Neighboring states, such as Iowa and Kansas, ban the outright use of a cell phone while a driver is operating a car—moving or not. Other states, such as Illinois and Minnesota, go further; They ban the holding of a phone by the driver while the car is on, all according to ghsa.org.

Due to the lack of a complete ban on texting while driving, both Missouri and Montana rank within the top 20 US states with the highest numbers of distracted driving deaths. Studies have shown that states with a cell phone usage while driving ban have decreased the number of fatalities. States without a ban faced an average of 12 deaths per every 10 billion miles traveled in each state compared to the 8.2 average for states with the ban, all according to valuepenguin.com.

However, things may change in Missouri. State Senator Greg Razer has introduced yet another bill (SB 713) to ban all forms of distracted driving. Instead of touching the phone, Razer suggests that drivers could use hands-free options, such as bluetooth or a cell phone holder, to send messages and receive calls, all according to kshb.com.

Despite a defined law, various Missouri services have attempted to encourage drivers to ditch their phones while driving.

The Missouri Department of Transportation started the No Phone Zone campaign to warn drivers about the dangers of texting while driving. No Phone Zone signs have been placed at various Missouri road work zones. Additionally, some work zones have been outfitted with warning bumps on the road to remind drivers, all according to missourinet.com.