Lawmaker proposes total ban on texting while driving

A Missouri lawmaker wants to prohibit everyone from texting while driving. Current state law only applies to drivers aged 21 and under.

Several Missourians told KRCG 13 Tuesday they thought a proposal to extend to everyone Missouri's ban on texting while driving was a good idea.

Jefferson City resident Lucas Diehl said as an avid bicyclist, drivers who don't pay attention to the road are a serious hazard for him.

"I've ridden all around the United States and seen a lot of people have close calls," he said. "You don't know what they could have been doing. They could have been texting while driving."

Eureka resident Dave Kaiser called the proposal a safety feature that needs to happen.

"I see people talking on the phone, and that's horrendous. And texting is just way over the top," he said.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says texting was a contributing factor in 262 crashes in 2012. Of those crashes, 82 resulted in injuries and two were fatal. State law already prohibits drivers from texting behind the wheel, but that law only applies to drivers aged 21 and under. Diehl, Kaiser and others said limiting the law to young adults does not make sense. Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, wants to extend that ban to everyone regardless of age.

"I think that at any age, if you do something inherently dangerous such as take your eyes from the road, you're not prepared for the car that comes at you from the side that you didn't think was coming," he said.

Even drivers who are already under Missouri's existing texting ban think expanding it is a good idea. Brandon Johndrow, 20, has already lost friends in crashes that resulted from texting.

"There were two of them back-to-back," he said. "They got into car accidents and they died on-site. That's the only thing they were doing wrong was texting while they were driving."

Ellinger's bill is currently awaiting assignment to a house committee.