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The dangers of texting while driving and why Missouri's ban isn't enough

While most other states have banned texting while driving for all drivers, Missouri lags behind with a ban solely for drivers under 21. Missouri's attempt to expand that to all drivers in 2015 fell short. This year, the House and Senate have heard testimony on another bill that would ban all drivers from texting while driving in all but emergency situations. If the bill passes, the law will likely go into effect in August.

Why you should support a texting ban

A 2015 survey by Erie Insurance and reported on distraction.gov found that one third of drivers admit to texting while driving.

If you haven't texted while driving, you have most likely driven past people with their eyes on their phones rather than the roads. Here's why you should care about it:

  • A person reading the average text message takes their eyes off the road for a distance equal to the length of a football field (five seconds at 55 mph).
  • More than 3,000 people are killed - and more than 400,000 injured - every year by distracted drivers, many of whom are texters.
  • Texting while driving increases your risk of a crash by 23 percent, according to research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
  • Texters are more likely to be in accidents and have a slower reaction time than drunk drivers.

Why a ban on teenager texting isn't enough

Make no mistake, teenagers text more than any other drivers on the road. In fact, 11 percent of all drivers ages 18-20 who caused accidents have admitted the cause to be texting while driving.

But they aren't the only ones. Drivers in their 20s, for example, account for 38 percent of drivers who cause fatal accidents on cell phones. Furthermore, a study by Wayne State University found that younger drivers were able to drive better while texting than older drivers (read about it here).

Our population of cell phone users is not getting any younger. Seventy-three percent of all cell-phone-owning Americans text, according to the Pew Research Center. While younger people text more, nearly 10 percent of adults between 55 and 64 text, and that number is constantly increasing.

What you can do

You can write to your lawmaker and encourage them to vote in favor of the ban on texting for all drivers. You can encourage your friends and family members to put down their cell phones and focus on driving. And you can put your own cell phone down. A text message is never worth a life.

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