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City of O’Fallon gets tough on distracted drivers

Most states and cities have come to recognize the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while distracted. In many places this had led to banning behaviors such as texting and driving. Some states have outright banned the act regardless of age but a few states, like Missouri, have limited their ban only to those under the age of 21, a move cities are fighting in their own way.

O’Follan is one of a few Missouri cities making moves to get tougher on the plague of distracted drivers. Missouri state law is one of the most lax when it comes to prohibiting actions commonly associated with distracted driving. In Missouri, only those under the age of 21 are prohibited from texting and driving even though bills to prohibit the act for all have repeatedly been submitted to the state’s legislature. In an attempt to do what the state hasn’t, cities are passing their own ordinances. O’Follan’s new ordinance is wide in breadth and prohibits everything from fixing one’s hair while driving to entering an address into a GPS.

Proponents of the new law hope that it will help curb the dangerous act of driving while distracted, which can lead to car accidents. They support the broad reach of the law saying it was necessary to win any court challenges. Opponents criticize the law for going too far down the path of infringing on individual rights and say it infringes upon state law.

Keeping abreast of changes in the state and local laws can have a major impact on the outcome of a civil case. Violations of laws and even city ordinances can be used to support claims of negligence against defendants.

Source: St. Louis Post, “New driving law in O’Fallon, Mo., covers more than just texting,” Mark Schlinkmann, Dec. 3, 2014