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All things EHS all the time

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Phones down, it’s the law

New law passed in hopes of putting an end to distracted driving.
Phones Down, Eyes On the Road. Missouri has a new law in effect that restricts phone usage while driving

As of Aug. 28, Missouri has a new law in effect that restricts phone usage while driving. This law is called the Siddens Benings Hands-free law. The name of this law comes from two men, Randall Siddens and Michael Benings, who passed away due to a distracted driving accident. 

The number of fatalities related to distracted driving has been steadily increasing. This law has been passed to hopefully subside the number of car crashes since most car crashes stem from distracted driving. 

The new law deals with more than sending a text or changing the song on your phone while behind the wheel. According to Senate Bill 398, drivers are not allowed to hold or support a cell phone while driving. Having a cell phone supported on the driver’s leg is against the law. Writing or reading a text message and watching or recording a video are now against the law. Hands-free functions are still allowed. 

Derek Ploeger, School Resource Officer at Eureka, agrees that this law can be beneficial to decreasing distracted driving accidents. He also has advice on safe alternatives to having a phone in the driver’s lap. 

“One thing that you could do instead of having your phone in your lap, they sell things that go into your cupholders, phone stands basically,” Ploeger said. “Your phone is in a position where you’re looking right at it. That is a safer, hands-free option if you need to do anything with it.” 

This law allows the usage of a cell phone to access maps. Another thing that provides flexibility to this law is using a phone to contact emergency services such as EMS, police, etc. 

Breaking this law is a second offense, meaning that currently, an officer cannot pull a driver over just for using their cell phone. However, if the driver is pulled over for another violation and the officer sees that a phone is being used, they can issue the violation. 

Until Jan. 1, 2025, officers can only issue a warning for being on a cell phone, but after that date, drivers may be fined. The first offense fine amount is $150, the second offense is up to $250 and the third offense may be fined up to $500. If this law is violated in a work zone with workers present or a marked school zone, the fine is up to $500.

“Being a new driver, no call or text is really that important. If you really need to get ahold of someone, call them. Calling is much easier than texting,” I feel like we’ve gotten away from talking on the phone it’s all texting. It only takes a second for you to miss someone braking in front of you, or a light turning red, so be smart, be alert, and keep your phone down.” 

Morgan Clark
Morgan Clark
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Morgan Clark, Reporter

Morgan Clark, News Production

Grade: 11th
Years on Staff: 3 years Hobbies: Hanging out with my friends, playing water polo, spending time with my family and taking care of my pets What was your favorite childhood TV show?: Spongebob What is your favorite book?: Cat in the Hat Favorite Quote: "You can't spell awesome without me" Favorite Hot Take: Vanilla ice cream is gross Fun Fact: I have 5 cats What motivates you?: My friends (especially Amina) and my mom
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