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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    TheStupidOne, May 20th, 2009 @ 3:37pm

    Because once you are able to drink you no longer want to text while driving ... you are too busy swerving ... so they figure just let people do it anyway

     

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    Weird Harold's former #5 fan, May 20th, 2009 @ 3:41pm

    What happens on a person's 21st birthday that suddenly makes texting while driving acceptable and safe?

    The same thing that happens that suddenly makes drinking acceptable and safe.

    What that "thing" is, I have no idea.

     

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      DJ, May 20th, 2009 @ 6:07pm

      Re:

      actually the 21 drinking age stems from something about PHYSICAL maturity. That's not how it's applied anymore, but that's where it originates.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2009 @ 4:13pm

    Magical Birthdays

    What happens on a person's 21st birthday that suddenly makes texting while driving acceptable and safe?

    Same thing that suddenly happens on their 18th birthday that makes it OK to engage in sex with them.

     

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      dirtyoldman, May 20th, 2009 @ 6:00pm

      Re: Magical Birthdays

      Age of consent is 17 in MO - at least we got something right! (Just don't take pics/video - federal law bans that unitl 18).

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2009 @ 4:22pm

    Hey statutory rape is legal as long as it's your daughter...or is that Kansas.

     

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      hegemon13, May 21st, 2009 @ 7:46am

      Re:

      Uh, no, dumbass. Kansas is one of the most child-protectionist states in the nation, where the state AG was demanding paperwork for all under-16 abortions in order to start investigations into statutory rape cases.

      I doubt your ridiculous claim is true anywhere.

       

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    Anonymous12, May 20th, 2009 @ 4:26pm

    A couple of points. First scientific research has been done that shows that talking on a phone while driving is equivalent to driving drunk or worse. There are certain parts of a person's brain that are involved that are not for other activities. While other activities can be just as dangerous, eating, grooming, etc,. cell phone use and driving really IS different. While the hands free device use compromise in places like California is in some ways just for political points, it does serve some,albeit small, practical purpose. At least the distracted drivers hands can be engaged to steer out of an emergency. The main reason is that the cell phone culture is too engrained to make a banning outright practical. So a compromise is ultimately better than no law, IMHO.

    To the point of the article, I think that while teenage drivers can be more easily distracted, our laws should be equitable where possible. I think texting bans (WHERE YOU ACTUALLY ARE LOOKING DOWN) are a good idea, as they like cell phones, present a unique risk seperate from human behaviors (ie,grooming), but there shouldn't be an age limit. Anything less is political grandstanding.

     

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      :Lobo Santo, May 20th, 2009 @ 4:39pm

      Re:

      Yo, man, there's already a bevvy of laws which could be used for this. (Though none of them are "engrained" (heh)).
      Two quick examples: Reckless Endangerment, Negligence. (I'm sure there are others)

      Making new laws to cover that which is already covered is just asinine; as though the law-makers are attempting to justify their existence and salary by working EXTRA hard (and doing stupid things).

       

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      Mike (profile), May 20th, 2009 @ 5:18pm

      Re:

      A couple of points. First scientific research has been done that shows that talking on a phone while driving is equivalent to driving drunk or worse.

      Though, there's a major difference. A person can put down the phone/hang up. You can't sober up like that.

      But on the whole, we agree that using a mobile phone and driving are *usually* a bad idea -- depending on the circumstances. But why do you assume that other activities aren't as bad? Why is it different?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2009 @ 11:13am

        Re: Re:

        Though, there's a major difference. A person can put down the phone/hang up.

        And a person should "put down the phone/hang up" when they're driving. We're talking about people who don't do that.

        But why do you assume that other activities aren't as bad? Why is it different?

        Why is DUI different?

         

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

      Re:

      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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        Martin O'B (profile), May 23rd, 2009 @ 3:38pm

        Re:

        That's the one thing that nobody seems to realize on this topic. It's not holding the phone while driving that causes the problems. It's the act of talking to someone not in the car, whether you're holding the phone or on a headset.

        When someone is in the car with you while you talk, they can help alert you to problems that you may not notice, possibly due to you talking to them. When they're not in the car (just on the phone), they can't see that your swerving into the other lane and get your attention.

         

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    teka, May 20th, 2009 @ 5:04pm

    I have talked with a few people about this, and while I cant quote chapter and verse, it seems that lawmakers in many states have a hidden entryway to restricting certain behavior related to age and driving.

    In this case, it may well be that there are already Missouri laws on the books that create a tiered level of licenses by age, making it easy to add new language, even if its irrational and sweeping, to the restrictions already in place.

     

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    Bettawrekonize, May 20th, 2009 @ 5:11pm

    People should not be texting while driving, their eyes should be on the road.

     

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    DJ, May 20th, 2009 @ 5:56pm

    Hawaii law

    As of July 1st, on Oahu you will not be allowed to do anything on your phone if it is not hands-free. I do find it interesting, though, that ANY such law has to specifically include playing video games.

    Honestly, who the fuck is stupid enough to think that playing a video game while driving is safe??

     

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      DJ, May 20th, 2009 @ 6:01pm

      Re: Hawaii law

      Clarification: Who honestly thinks it's acceptable to, not just look down for a moment, but actually divert your attention to something that has nothing to do with driving?

      IM-not so-HO, anyone caught doing that should be tried for attempted manslaughter!

       

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        Mark Bahr, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 2:25pm

        Re: Re: Hawaii law

        Attempted manslaughter in most states requires the intent to kill (albeit not a premeditated intent). One could have reckless endangerment (one could add degrees of reckless endangerment) and attempted involuntary manslaughter is a contradiction in terms.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2009 @ 6:01pm

    What's next on the list

    Walk and chew gum

     

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    Anonymous12, May 20th, 2009 @ 6:06pm

    @Lobo Santo: The culture of cell phones are engrained, not the law. If you were trying to be funny, well...not so much.

    @Mike: The difference is mostly scientific. From my limited
    understanding, the act of say combing your hair, or say, stuffing french fries in your face, doesn't distract in the same way talking does. While I may have been trying to justify my points a bit, there does seem to be a real, and meaningful distinction. This would justify a seperate law.
    Text messaging means no hands on the wheel (steering with the backs of fingers probably) and looking away from the road. Again, unique. I'm not for redundancy in the laws if it's not needed, but technology changes the way people operate. Again also, for this law you mention, it does seem that the age limit is just a way to use the teenagers as a scapegoat for what is a problem for people of ALL ages. There I definately agree.

     

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      The infamous Joe, May 21st, 2009 @ 10:14am

      Re:

      Text messaging means no hands on the wheel (steering with the backs of fingers probably)

      What tiny child-like hands do you have that prevent you from texting one handed?!

      I have been known to text a quick reply while driving, and I bring the phone up to my eye level. That way, any changes in my driving situation are noticed quickly. Obviously not as fast as not texting, but faster than changing the radio station, and about equal to looking in the rear-view mirror.

      If you make it illegal, people are still going to do it, but they'll feel compelled to "hide" it by texting below window-level, eyes down. (Though, for some reason this is how most people do it anyway-- dunno why.)

      PS- I drive one handed regardless of if I'm texting or not. Two and ten is for my grandmother.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2009 @ 11:19am

        Re: Re:

        PS- I drive one handed regardless of if I'm texting or not.

        Then maybe you should get the other one out of you pants.

        Two and ten is for my grandmother.

        Sounds like even she's a better driver than you are.

         

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    DJ, May 20th, 2009 @ 6:12pm

    Mythbusters

    A couple years ago, you may have seen the Mythbusters episode regarding distracted driving. They confirmed that being distracted by a phone call is actually WORSE than driving at the legal BAC. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it because Adam and Kari actually get drunk!

     

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      Mike (profile), May 20th, 2009 @ 6:29pm

      Re: Mythbusters

      A couple years ago, you may have seen the Mythbusters episode regarding distracted driving. They confirmed that being distracted by a phone call is actually WORSE than driving at the legal BAC. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it because Adam and Kari actually get drunk!

      I saw that episode... and while I'm a huge fan, I had serious problems with the methodology, which included a weird obstacle course, that was not "everyday driving" and also included odd other distractions and what was not a "normal" conversation. I didn't think it told us much of anything.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 1:44pm

        Re: Re: Mythbusters

        I saw that episode... and while I'm a huge fan,...

        From what I've read, I thought that show was geared towards 12 year old Beavis and Buttheads with a hard-on for Kari Byron who want to see some kind of explosion or fire in practically episode. I mean, really, pretty juvenile stuff. I think there was even an episode once where they drove vehicles to test them for gas mileage that came with a warning that viewers should never try the same at home, EVER! So remember Mike, if you're a Mythbuster fan, you're considered too immature to drive anyway.

         

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    GJ, May 20th, 2009 @ 6:35pm

    what should be disallowed

    When you sneeze, you close your eyes. You should never have your eyes closed when you are driving, therefore, sneezing in a car should be outlawed.

    The most distracting things you can have in the car is kids in the backseat. Therefore, kids should never be allowed to be in a car unless they're drugged.

    Most accidents on the roads happen between cars, so all other cars should be on a strict schedule to be on the road so that I can have the roads all to myself.

     

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      leeannet, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 10:58am

      Re: what should be disallowed

      u sneeze for a quick second the body doesnt really allow u to control a sneeze lets get real texting takes more time and EYES off the road that was goofy to even say

       

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      MoDot, Mar 29th, 2014 @ 9:16pm

      Re: what should be disallowed

      Erickson's 8, I would hate to try to explain anything to you. Scary stuff, even though you are kidding. Some of the millennium brats have this logic... no lie. Hahaha Guarantee, they think the no text thing is some plot against them... ;-)

       

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    Ryan, May 20th, 2009 @ 7:00pm

    The obvious escaped Carlo

    Texting and driving is dangerous; much more so than talking on the phone while driving.

    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.

    Your argument is absurd but first things first. Nothing happens at age 21, and this law should apply to everyone regardless of age. There is not one "root cause" of texting and driving (you conviently left out your opinion on this point). Furthermore, making it illegal does not imply everything else is safe. There is no need to pass a law against playing a PSP and driving because nobody does it (hopefully). Rather, making it illegal suggests that it is happening often enough to warrant attention from lawmakers, and though this may be a point of disagreement here: laws do influence human behavior.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2009 @ 7:39pm

      Re: The obvious escaped Carlo

      "Furthermore, making it illegal does not imply everything else is safe."

      I guess it can fall under the general context of reckless driving. It's reckless to look at your cell phone when you're supposed to be looking at the road.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2009 @ 7:41pm

      Re: The obvious escaped Carlo

      Besides, isn't that the whole purpose of our entire court systems. Congress passes general laws (ie: reckless driving is illegal) and the courts interpret what that means (no text messaging while driving).

       

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      Bettawrekonize, May 20th, 2009 @ 7:49pm

      Re: The obvious escaped Carlo

      (the laws two responses were by me, I forgot to put my name in there).

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 5:38am

      Re: The obvious escaped Carlo

      You didn't interpret his statement correctly. He never said there was a root cause of texting & driving. He said there's a root cause of unsafe driving. And that cause is people doing things they shouldn't be doing. Banning one thing out of a list of many is generally useless, especially since the behavior already falls under reckless driving and negligence. If they want to increase penalties for various activities, fine. Add them as clauses to the pre-existing laws.

       

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    Techsupoort, May 20th, 2009 @ 11:32pm

    RE:

    In this case, it may well be that there are already Missouri laws on the books that create a tiered level of licenses by age, making it easy to add new language, even if its irrational and sweeping, to the restrictions already in place.

     

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    (jeff)isageek, May 21st, 2009 @ 6:35am

    wow how stupid to put the over 21 stipulation in there. No one no matter how old you are should be texting when driving.

     

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    Idiot Basher, May 21st, 2009 @ 7:08am

    21!

    21 is a magical age. You can drink and text at 21!

    You can vote at 18. You can help decide the future of the country at 18. You can help elect someone who will shape the face of the world for the next 4 years at 18.

    You can join the military at 18. You can be deployed overseas into heavy combat at 18. You can kill someone "defending" your country at 18. You can be put in charge of millions of dollars of military hardware at 18.

    But God forbid you drink or text at 18.

     

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    Anonymous12, May 21st, 2009 @ 8:35am

    where the state AG was demanding paperwork for all under-16 abortions in order to start investigations into statutory rape cases.


    Good. I suppose you think it's just A-OK for 15 year olds to be having abortions right? The pregnancy never has to do with their scumbag 27 year old boyfriend right?
    I mean get up, do some homework, eat breakfast, listen to some rock music, get an abortion, it's all cool right?
    Just another day in amorality-ville...

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 11:07am

      Re:

      Dude, your comment has nothing to do with what you quoted. Settle down there.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2009 @ 12:48pm

      Re:

      The pregnancy never has to do with their scumbag 27 year old boyfriend right?

      Just because a 15 year old is pregnant doesn't mean a 27 year old was involved. That's just a stupid assumption. Of course, it just goes along with the rest of the stupid comment.

       

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    Anonymous12, May 21st, 2009 @ 10:54am

    @The Infamous Joe: Part of the problem= YOU.
    END TRANSMISSION..

     

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    Gene Cavanaugh, May 21st, 2009 @ 12:22pm

    Texting while driving

    I don't think it is good to "peg" on issues. While I am opposed to the idea that we should single out segments of the population for favoritism (which is reverse discrimination) it is both unfair and untrue to say there is NO reason for it!
    We all know that younger people may not have become mature at a time when they are allowed to do mature things. In most states, 16 year olds can drive, and they are a real hazard on the road, as a group! So, setting an age limit is, if not reasonable, still not unreasonable!
    That said, I don't like discrimination, and this is!

     

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    ballin, May 21st, 2009 @ 12:33pm

    Texting while driving

    what makes a 21 yr old instantly mature enough to buy/drink alcohol? Idiots are passing our laws

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2009 @ 8:11pm

    You know, it is possible to text without looking at your phone. Most people have a sense memory of where all the buttons are. Some people text enough to know exactly where your fingers need to move. Its just counting in directions...I'm not saying its right or safe, but everyone acts like you have to sit there and stare at your phone in order to text. You really don't. And how is talking on the phone any different than having another human being or 4 in the car with you, talking to you?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2009 @ 5:31am

    shut up

     

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    dion morris, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 6:40am

    driving

    i like to learn how to driving that when i get in the nine grade i will be really to drive

     

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    mary hacther, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 7:16am

    texting while driving

    i was thinking of texting while riding my motorcycle with no helmet

     

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    mary hacther, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 7:23am

    texting while driving

    i was thinking of texting while riding my motorcycle with no helmet

     

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    Bob, Jul 16th, 2009 @ 5:11pm

    21 years of age

    What happens at age 21 is not magic, but you need a cutoff somewhere, don't you? Whether it's alcohol or driving laws, no state is saying something magical happens between the day before and the day of your 21st birthday. What do you suggest besides an arbitrary date, a test that shows you're ready for alcohol or driving while texting? Do we allow 14 year olds to take the test, or will 12 year olds be pissed if we set an arbitrary date older than they are.

    The state of Missouri is concerned about the divided attention that talking/texting causes, not that a hand is off the wheel or eyes are off the road. Your mind is actually diverted from the task of driving, almost to the point of feeling like you're relaxing at home.

     

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    Bob, Jul 16th, 2009 @ 5:11pm

    21 years of age

    What happens at age 21 is not magic, but you need a cutoff somewhere, don't you? Whether it's alcohol or driving laws, no state is saying something magical happens between the day before and the day of your 21st birthday. What do you suggest besides an arbitrary date, a test that shows you're ready for alcohol or driving while texting? Do we allow 14 year olds to take the test, or will 12 year olds be pissed if we set an arbitrary date older than they are.

    The state of Missouri is concerned about the divided attention that talking/texting causes, not that a hand is off the wheel or eyes are off the road. Your mind is actually diverted from the task of driving, almost to the point of feeling like you're relaxing at home.

     

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    paul, Jul 16th, 2009 @ 11:39pm

    it should be our right this is all bull crap... like wearing a seat belt that should be our choice

     

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    Leeanne, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 10:56am

    ban it for all

    text while driving isnt just an issue for under 21 its all drivers that text its very dangerous any time your eyes are off the road so it should be a law for everyone its against the law for anyone to drink and drive so make it a law for everyone no texting and driving

     

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    .s,gh aui;wfh, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 6:20am

    The old people are the retards who have to stare at there phone to text so they should be banned

     

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    didi, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 3:25pm

    ha thats retarded

    Whos to say people that are over the age of 21 are more dangerous texting while driving?????? under that age most can already text without looking at the phone anyway. hello what do u think they do at school??

     

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    Nate, Dec 11th, 2009 @ 9:55am

    Overlegislation

    "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."

    This is the true problem of overlegislation. People begin to equate legality with morality. Thus, conservatives think that getting rid of drug laws is a bad idea "because then the government would be endorsing drugs!" Liberals think that that getting rid of antidiscrimination laws is a bad idea "because the government would be endorsing discrimination!" The truth is that neither law (in today's world) does much to further their pet cause, and in fact, evidence shows that discrimination and drug use actually increase due to the laws.

     

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    Nate, Dec 11th, 2009 @ 5:48pm

    One handed?

    Noticed that some people think driving one handed is bad. Does this mean that manual transmissions should be banned? How about eating, drinking, smoking, using your turn signal, etc? I still don't see how extending laws to specific items rather than simply using the existing reckless driving laws is a good idea.

     

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    Samantha Speiser, Dec 30th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

    Missouri Law- Texting while driving

    Watch the PSA Texting While Driving video. A little graphic but still effective. I find it sad that ANY state would not completely ban this activity. But Missouri is going to support it only for individuals over the age of 21? I think the older generations are more likely to get into car accidents, we're the least text savvy!!! This law is ridiculous. People are we that fearful of human contact that we can't CALL instead? Can't you wait another 15 minutes until you arrive at your destination to send a text message?

    Disgusted.

     

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    sicnar, Mar 19th, 2010 @ 1:14am

    A lot happens then, objectively.

    This is actually a time of great revolution for most adults. The frontal lobe of the brain has finally fully developed and the individual is less prone to impulse, especially anger.

     

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    Al Lopez, May 13th, 2010 @ 8:01am

    Texting while driving is wrong for all drivers

    I understand lawmakers in Missouri feel that young drivers are more susceptible of texting while driving, but adults are just as bad. People are so focused on productivity these days, but I don't think an email or text message is worth taking someone's child/relative/spouse life. Any responsible driver should pull over or consider hands-free texting applications such as TextnDrive (http://www.textndrive.com/textingwhiledriving.php). There are ways to reduce the distraction if people aren't willing to shut down their phone while driving.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2011 @ 7:17pm

    Because Lawmakers are dumb. Just look at Nebraska's safe haven law.

     

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    Rachel Weatherford, Nov 3rd, 2011 @ 7:20pm

    Texting while driving

    Who really cares? A lot of people do it, and I've heard from some law enforcement agents that it's highly unlikely they would stop anyone for the mere fact they are texting and driving. They are ALWAYS going to do it, no matter, and making it illegal is not a solution.

     

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    Amber Snyder, Nov 20th, 2011 @ 10:22am

    They claim that the brain is fully developed by the age twenty one and feel that they have the responsibilty to do so, and deal with the consequenses.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2011 @ 12:17pm

    you are stupid

     

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    hh, Jan 11th, 2012 @ 5:46am

    wo

    i dont think that the whole 21st birthday thing is true.

     

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    roberta mcclain, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 7:51pm

    age limit on texting and driving

    this is crazy this law should apply to all drivers

     

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