August 28, 2009
Governor is joined by Highway Patrol leadership in educating motorists about new rule of the road for drivers 21 and under
Gov. Nixon reminds young Missourians that state law banning texting while driving takes effect today
Gov. Jay Nixon joins local and state law enforcement officers in Springfield to remind young Missourians that the state's prohibition on texting while driving is now in force. This law prohibits drivers 21 and younger from sending, reading or receiving text messages while behind the wheel. Also present for this announcement were State Representatives Charlie Norr and Sara Lampe.
LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. - Beginning today, it is illegal for drivers age 21 and under to send, read or write text messages while driving on Missouri roads. Gov. Jay Nixon and Missouri State Highway Patrol Assistant Superintendent Lt. Col. Richard Coffey were in Lee's Summit today to remind young drivers and their parents that enforcement of the new Missouri law banning texting while driving is now in effect.
"August and September are busy travel times for Missouri youth, as thousands of students hit the road to head back to high school and college all across the state," Gov. Nixon said. "This change in the law to ban texting will help protect the safety of these less experienced drivers, their passengers and other motorists. We want to educate young drivers and their parents so they know about this new rule of the road and put away their cell phone, Blackberry or other texting device when behind the wheel."
"Protecting young drivers is an important part of public safety on our roadways," Lt. Col. Coffey said. "Those drivers and their parents need to be aware that the Missouri State Highway Patrol will be enforcing this new law, starting today. This law also should serve as a reminder that all drivers, not just teens, should focus on the road and not on distractions that can cause accidents."
The Governor said that distracted or impaired driving is dangerous, in any form. He pointed to a study by researchers at Virginia Tech University showing that the risk of a crash or near-crash increases more than 23 times when drivers send a text message, because their eyes are focused on the cell phone or other device, and not on the road ahead. Other studies have shown that nearly half of all teen drivers have sent or received text messages while behind the wheel, the Governor said.
The change in the law is in the omnibus crime bill, House Bill 62, which was signed into law by Gov. Nixon this summer. The portion banning texting while driving for drivers 21 and under took effect today, Aug. 28. The law classifies a violation as an infraction, punishable by a fine of up to $200; and as a moving violation, punishable by an assessment of points on the driver's license.
Gov. Nixon and Lt. Col. Coffey made their remarks at the Troop A "Super Site" in Lee's Summit. The location is a multi-purpose driver's examination and inspection facility.