A Missouri House lawmaker has introduced a bill that would
require people in the state to keep their hands off their phones while they are
behind the wheel.
Sponsored by Rep. Talibdin El-Amin, D-St. Louis, the bill
would mandate that drivers put down their hand-held cell phones while behind
the wheel. Talking on a phone equipped with a "hands-free" accessory would
still be permitted.
The bill would make it a secondary offense to drive while
using a hand-held phone - meaning a person would have to be pulled over for
another violation, such as speeding, before they could be ticketed for talking
on the phone. Violators would face $20 fines. Repeat offenders would face $50
Among the exemptions listed in the bill are emergency calls
and using push-to-talk two-way, or "walkie-talkie," devices that are popular in
the trucking industry.
Currently, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York have the
only statewide laws restricting cell phone use in vehicles. In 2008, California
is slated to implement its own rule. Other states also are looking into
implementing their own rules.
However, more studies show that hands-free and hand-held
phones are equally distracting for drivers. Opponents of cell phone
restrictions also say that talking on cell phones is no more distracting than eating,
drinking or changing radio stations while driving.
In fact, research by the University of North Carolina
determined that cell-phone use ranked eighth in terms of distraction, The Patriot-News reported.
El-Amin's bill - HB317 - is awaiting assignment to