INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Missouri’s new distracted driving law, which bans even holding your phone, goes into effect Monday.
If you want to text or talk on the phone now, you’ll have to do it hands-free.
The new law says Missouri drivers are not allowed to hold phones, send or read text messages, watch videos or make calls while behind the wheel. However, hands-free phone use will still be allowed.
“If you take some of that inattention away, hopefully it will reduce accidents,” Independence Police spokesman Officer Jack Taylor said.
Taylor hopes this will be the driving force to stop people from getting distracted behind the wheel and, in turn, save lives.
“Just two or three seconds with your eyes off the road, you can travel a pretty long distance,” Taylor said. “And so things can happen in that distance that you don’t see, and so things can happen in that distance that you’re not able to react to.”
FOX4 went on a ride-along with Independence Officer Brian Kelly and stopped near Truman and Arlington Avenue. In five minutes, he said about 20 cars passed by.
“She was on her phone, and she wasn’t wearing her seatbelt,” Kelly said.
Five drivers were on their phones.
“I feel like distracted driving, besides speed or impairment, is one of the leading causes of traffic crashes,” Kelly said.
The texting and driving law is a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement can only write the citation after pulling you over for something else.
Starting Monday, drivers will receive a warning. But starting in 2025, officers will start issuing citations. Fines will start at $150 and go up to $500 for multiple violations.
“The best thing to do is always to arrive alive,” Kelly said, “and that means eyes on the road, that means paying attention.”
On the Kansas side, texting and driving is illegal across the state, unless you’re using hands-free operations, like voice to text through your vehicle.