COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A 2009 Missouri law that bans young drivers from using their cell phones to send text messages has led to few citations and remains difficult to enforce, a Columbia newspaper reports.
The Columbia Missourian reports that an average of fewer than four people a month have received texting-while-driving tickets since the law was passed. Court records reviewed by the Missourian show that no one has been punished for violating the law in nearly half the state's 114 counties.
In Boone County, six of the seven people punished for breaking the law were fined $20.50. A seventh violator received the maximum $200 fine after also hitting a utility pole while texting.
Missouri's distracted driving laws are among the nation's most lenient. Ten states ban all hand-held cellphone use.
Missouri law currently bans drivers under 21 from texting while driving, but not those who are older. Democratic State Rep. Michele Kratky has introduced a bill that would change that.
Kratky says that looking down to send a text message is unsafe for drivers of all ages
"It's almost like having a blindfold on while you're driving," Kratky said. "And I don't think that's very safe for the citizens of the state of Missouri."
Kratky's bill, HB 394, would allow for hand free texting.
Only 11 states still allow at least some drivers to text and drive.