KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With a new Missouri law going into effect Monday, only one state in the U.S. now doesn’t have a ban on texting and driving.
Missouri’s new distracted driving law took effect Monday, banning hand-held phone use while driving. While it obviously covers sending text messages, the new law also includes holding a phone, making calls and reading messages.
However, hands-free phone use will still be allowed, as well as using phones for navigation, making emergency calls and listening to podcasts or music.
The new law makes Missouri the 49th state to implement a statewide texting and driving ban for all drivers. The state’s previous law only applied to those 21 and under.
Now Montana is the only state that still allows drivers to text behind the wheel.
In the past, bills to ban texting and driving in Montana have failed, with many Republicans arguing they’re not effective and infringe on people’s rights.
In the last Montana legislative session, lawmakers even attempted to limit local ordinances on texting and driving, KBZK reports.
Republicans proposed a bill that wouldn’t allow any restrictions on cell phone use, including texting and driving, unless the local ordinances allow for hands-free use. That bill, however, died in a House committee.
But the Montana Department of Transportation maintains that texting while driving is “one of the most dangerous of all distracted driving activities.”
The latest numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show a 12% rise from 2020 to 2021 in fatal crashes involving at least one distracted driver, with 3,522 people killed across the U.S. Officials also said these cases likely are under-reported by police.