In the fight against distracted driving, much attention has been paid to dangers of texting; and rightfully so. As a result most states, including Missouri, have at a minimum passed partial texting bans. In Missouri, drivers under 21-years-old are prohibited from texting while driving.
Now, a new bill proposes to expand the fight against distracted driving by making any activity that distracts drivers’ attention from the road a misdemeanor. Under the proposed legislation, drivers whose “full time and attention” is not given to the task of driving would be guilty of a traffic offense.
Safety is at the heart of the bill proposed by state Senator Bill Stouffer (R-Napton), with the goal of limiting distractions and preventing car accidents.
Sgt. Collin Stosberg of the Missouri Highway Patrol, talking about distracted driving, was quoted by Kansas City television station KMBC as saying: “When you’re not doing the job of driving, you run the chance of being involved in a crash.”
What Is a Distraction?
Under the bill, distraction is defined as “engaging in any other activity which causes the operator to be distracted from driving.” This vague definition could include a multitude of activities, including:
- Eating or drinking
- Talking on a cell phone
- Reaching for an object in the backseat
- Using a navigation system
The bill would charge drivers who allow themselves to become distracted with a Class C misdemeanor. If distractions cause drivers to become involved in accidents, those drivers could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which could include a $300 fine and up to 15 days in jail.
Whether the proposed bill passes the Legislature or not, it is bringing awareness to the issue that distracted drivers pose an increased risk of injury to others on Missouri’s roads