Missouri just one of 3 states where texting and driving is still legal

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It’s been more than six years since John Larimer’s mother died in a distracted driving crash.

Loretta Larimer, 72, was killed on impact after a distracted teen driver plowed into the great-grandmother’s vehicle in September 2011. Since that day in 2011, John Larimer’s been working tirelessly to get a distracted driving law on the books in Missouri.

It still hasn’t happened.

Missouri is now one of only three states where it is still legal for drivers, 21 and over, to text behind the wheel. Arizona and Montana are the other two states. In Kansas, distracted drivers can be given a $60 ticket.

“It’s somewhat maddening,” John Larimer told FOX4's Pat McGonigle.

Although the legislative inaction can be maddening, to people like Larimer, the statistics on distracted driving crashes in Missouri are sobering.

On average, there is a distracted driving car crash in Missouri every three hours. In 2011, Loretta Larimer was one of 14 people killed in a distracted driving car crash in Missouri. From 2011 to 2015, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the number of distracted driving crashes climbed from 1,850 to 2,612.

Missouri Rep. Galen Higdon has been trying to pass a distracted driving law in Jefferson City for years. Higdon’s attempt last year died in the state senate.

“A lot of good legislation that came from the house just didn’t make it to the floor,” Higdon told FOX4.

Higdon said the Missouri State Senate failed to get much done at all last year.

“We weren’t getting anything done because they were shut down,” Higdon said. “It is maddening, but that’s the process.”

Higdon is determined to pass a distracted driving law in Jefferson City during the current legislative session.

Safety experts said in the time it takes a driver to check their phone -- about four seconds -- a car travels about the distance of a football field.

Students at Belton High School arranged for a safety expert to set up a texting and driving simulator to highlight the danger to young drivers.

“Every single day, 11 teenagers die just because of texting and driving,” said Hanne Mercouffer, who supervised the simulator. “And every year, there are over 1.6 million accidents that happen due to distracted driving.”