To Stop Car Crashes, Missouri and Illinois Consider Banning Cell Phone Text Messaging While Driving

Lawmakers in Missouri and Illinois are both on the verge of making it illegal to send and read text messages behind the wheel, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported May 18. Missouri’s legislature has already passed a bill forbidding drivers under the age of 21 from texting while driving, while their counterparts in Illinois are considering a broader bill that would apply to drivers of every age. The goal is to reduce the number of crashes caused by irresponsible uses of cell phones while driving, which even opponents of the bills agree is a problem, the article says.
The Missouri measure was originally written to apply to all drivers, but died in the state House and was passed in its current form as an attachment to a different bill. The article did not specify a penalty for those caught breaking the new law, but judging by other states’ approaches, the drivers would be ticketed. Opponents of the bill argued that it could give bad police officers an excuse for racial profiling, and that police have better things to worry about. But the sponsor of the original bill, state Sen. Ryan McKenna, D-Crystal City, worried only that the bill doesn’t go far enough. After all, he pointed out, the conductor in the recent Boston train accident involving texting was over 21.
In Illinois, the texting ban would apply to drivers age 19 and over outside Chicago; younger drivers and Chicagoans are already banned from using cell phones in any way while driving. Lawmakers debating the texting ban brought up concerns about allowing police officers unfettered access to drivers’ phones. They also worried that the use of GPS devices, which are intended to help drivers navigate unfamiliar roads, would be illegal under the bill. Nonetheless, the paper said, the bill is expected to pass and go to Gov. Pat Quinn for approval. The bill was driven in part by a fatal 2006 crash in which a teenaged driver hit a bicyclist while she was downloading new ringtones to her phone.
As a St. Louis car accident attorney, I believe these bills, if they are enforced properly, could do a lot to prevent accidents caused by cell phone use. Anyone who drives has a story about driving behind someone who is drifting or driving at the wrong speed for conditions with a phone pressed to one ear. While cell phones are far from the only distraction that can cause an accident, they are one of the most common — even people who cannot afford a car can afford a phone. While a ticket may seem like a cynical revenue-generating device, our Missouri car crash lawyers believe it has value both as a deterrent and as a way to show younger drivers that cell phone use while driving is a safety problem, teaching them to change their behavior without the need for tickets.
Based in St. Louis and Belleville, Ill., Carey, Danis & Lowe represents victims of serious personal injuries caused by car wrecks in Missouri and southern Illinois. Our Missouri auto accident lawyers help people who were seriously hurt or lost a loved one in a car, truck or motorcycle accidents recover the money they need to pay their medical bills, make ends meet and eventually move past their accidents. If you and your family are in this position and you’d like to learn more, please contact Carey, Danis & Lowe online or call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.