The Missouri General Assembly is often slow to address important issues. Fortunately, its action to address the dangers of texting while driving has been an exception to the rule.
Just a few years ago, text messaging basically did not exist. But after texting became popular, the potentially fatal hazards of texting while behind the wheel became so apparent so quickly that lawmakers last year outlawed the practice for anyone age 21 or younger.
Legislation is currently pending that would ban texting while driving by motorists of all ages. One of several bills containing the texting ban, House Bill 2111, has already been approved by the House and has won a preliminary vote in the Senate. While it is encouraging that this bill is so far along in the process, with the end of the legislative session looming on May 14, it is easy for legislation to get derailed down the stretch.
According to a 2009 report by the National Safety Council, about 200,000 accidents a year are caused by texting while driving in the United States. To ensure safer Missouri roads, I encourage everyone to urge their state lawmakers to get a total ban on texting behind the wheel enacted this year.
Maria Chappelle-Nadal represents University City in the Missouri General Assembly. She is a Democrat.