In many states, it’s been illegal to use a hand-held cellphone while driving for years. Here in Missouri, it just became illegal last month. Even with the new law, drivers won’t get more than a warning until 2025.
Further, illegal cellphone use will be considered a secondary violation. That means a person can’t be ticketed simply because they’re talking or texting on their phone. They must be committing another violation, like speeding.
An official with the Missouri State Highway Patrol contends that the new law will still reduce dangerous cellphone use while driving. He notes, “The seatbelt law is also a secondary violation, but yet we still have almost 90% of people wearing their seatbelts…[I]f we can get nine out of 10 people to stop using these devices when they’re driving, that’s going to make a huge difference in the number of crashes that we see.”
Some hand-held cellphone use will still be legal
The new law prohibits talking, texting and recording or watching videos on a handheld phone while driving (although not while stopped). However, drivers are still allowed to hold their phones to look at a map, get music or other listening content and call for emergency help.
That may seem like a lot of exceptions. That’s why law enforcement officials recommend that drivers use hands-free technology that comes in most vehicles and puts everything on your dashboard. If you don’t have that, keeping your cellphone in a securely mounted holder and using voice commands are the next best thing.
Safe drivers should do more than the law requires
If you’re one of those drivers who cringes when they see a driver tapping away on their phone while driving or engaged in a spirited conversation, this law may seem like far too little, too late. You’ll likely continue to see that for a while. Even once the law takes effect, the thought of drivers still being able to look up directions or browse through their library of podcasts can still be frightening.
Safe drivers can reduce their risk of a crash by never touching their phone or another electronic device while behind the wheel and, as much as possible, refraining from doing anything that takes their hands, eyes or minds off the road for even a moment.
If you are injured by another driver who wasn’t so careful, you can seek justice and compensation for your expenses and damages. Getting legal guidance is a good first step.