by Carlo Longino

Filed Under:
driving, missouri, teens, texting

Missouri: Text Messaging While Driving Is Fine, As Long As You're Over 21

from the disparate-impact dept

Laws that ban individual activities -- like cell phone use -- while driving are often little more than political hype. Singling out specific activities for bans doesn't do much to address the root problem of unsafe driving, which remains the issue regardless of its cause, while also generating the implication that if a specific action while driving hasn't been banned, it's okay and safe. Nevertheless, plenty of states have moved forward with laws banning talking on cell phones while driving, and more recently, texting. Next, they'll have to ban using the mobile web, or IM, or playing Tetris on your phone while driving, since they've left these (and plenty of other activities) out, but we digress... In any case, Missouri's legislature has taken the silliness one step further by banning texting while driving, but only for drivers under the age of 21. If you accept the supposed need for these sorts of laws, how could you argue they should only apply to those under 21? What happens on a person's 21st birthday that suddenly makes texting while driving acceptable and safe? Answers in the comments, please...

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    crystalattice (profile), 20 May 2009 @ 5:51pm


    I don't know about you, but when I'm on the phone, most of my attention is focused on the call. If someone tries to talk to me while I'm using the phone, I either have to ignore the person on the phone or the person next to me. I can't track both conversations; usually I will miss what one person is saying.

    Ergo, I believe that, hands-free or not, talking on a cell phone is bad because the focus is moved to the phone call, not driving. Driving simply becomes an automatic action, much like when you get "road hypnosis" and suddenly realize you are miles down the road from when you last paid attention.

    When driving becomes automatic, any changes to the situation become dangerous. You over-react to objects in the road or other drivers swerving or braking.

    I suspect that the "under 21" law is trying to account for new drivers not having as much experience. The thing is, there is really not much difference between cell phone use, texting, messing w/ the radio, eating, etc. They are all distractions and most people are incapable of multi-tasking.

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