House bill proposed for device use while driving

House bill 73 proposes restricting wireless device use in school, work and construction zones.

A bill making its way through the Missouri Legislature proposes to keep the roads safer by limiting cellphone use.

Using a phone while driving is legal in Missouri for those above the age of 21.

Distracted driving is dangerous at all times, but especially in certain places of the roadway. House Bill 73 proposes “no person shall operate a motor vehicle within a school zone, constriction zone or work zone while using a hand-held wireless communication device in any manner.”

St. Joseph Safety and Health Council Traffic Safety Coordinator John Christensen said the device is more distracting than people may believe.

“Three things happen when we text and drive. Basically there’s a visual component, a cognitive component and a manual component. Our eyes, what we’re thinking about and our hands,” he said. “We need our eyes on the road, and not looking at a screen. We need our mind on the road and not reading a text or thinking about what we’re going to say in a text and then we need our hands on the steering wheel.”

The bill does include emergency exemptions such as reporting illegal activity, getting medical or emergency help or preventing injury to person or property.

Christensen said he expected cellphone use while driving to be addressed.

“Basically we’re a cellphone culture and we’re a driving culture. So it comes as a shock to nobody that those two activities would at some point merge and have to be dealt with. At this point it’s legislatively,” he said.

There are a few more proposed bills that involve using a phone or other distractions while driving. Christiansen said encouraging safer driving in any way possible will help form safer drivers early, as the number one cause of death for teens 15 to 19 years of age is vehicle crashes.

Morgan Riddell can be reached at morgan.riddell@newspressnow.com