In a decisive move to address the rising epidemic of distracted driving, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed the Siddens Bening Hands-Free Law. This legislative measure aims to put an end to the alarming trend of over 1,000 annual fatalities on the state’s roadways over the past two years.

Distracted driving has emerged as a primary catalyst for accidents in Missouri, with nearly 200,000 incidents and 801 deaths recorded between 2012 and 2021.

Nicole Hood, MoDOT State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer, stated in a news release her concern over the distressing surge in distracted driving incidents, emphasizing that, more often than not, fatalities involved individuals other than the distracted driver. She commended the General Assembly and Governor Parson for recognizing the urgency of implementing a hands-free law, expressing hope that it would reshape the prevailing safety culture around phone usage while driving and ultimately save lives.

Siddens Bening Hands-Free Law

The Siddens Bening Hands-Free Law enforces strict prohibitions on drivers. This includes physically holding or supporting a cell phone with any part of their body, manual engagement in typing, writing, sending, or reading text-based messages, recording, posting, sending, or broadcasting videos (including video calls and social media posts), and watching videos or movies.

In an era dominated by smartphones and constant connectivity, the dangers of texting while driving have become a pressing concern, casting a dark shadow over road safety. The seemingly harmless act of sending a text message can have catastrophic consequences, contributing significantly to the rising tide of traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities on our roads.

Dangers of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving, with texting at its forefront, poses an imminent threat to all road users. The allure of a buzzing phone or the need to respond quickly can tempt drivers to divert their attention away from the road, creating a perilous situation that unfolds in a matter of seconds. The statistics paint a grim picture, revealing the magnitude of this issue.

It’s not just the act of typing out a message that endangers lives; the mere act of reading a text message can be equally hazardous. The NHTSA emphasizes that taking one’s eyes off the road, even briefly, drastically increases the likelihood of a collision. The consequences are not only felt by the distracted driver but also by innocent passengers, pedestrians, and occupants of other vehicles.

Driver Education is Important for Behavior Change

Education plays a pivotal role in raising awareness and fostering behavioral change, especially in the context of preventing texting and driving. Defensive driving courses, including DriveSafe Online, can be instrumental in equipping drivers with the knowledge, skills, and mindset needed to prioritize safety on the roads.

The dangers of driving while texting are a critical societal concern that demands immediate attention. Beyond the statistics lie the human stories of lives shattered, families torn apart, and communities scarred by preventable tragedies. As we navigate the roads of the modern world, it is incumbent upon each of us to recognize the gravity of this issue and make a conscious choice to prioritize safety over the urge to text while driving. The stakes are high, and the path to safer roads begins with a simple decision – to keep our eyes on the road and our hands on the wheel.