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Missouri is now hands-free


On Aug. 23, after being passed by the Missouri General Assembly, Governor Mike Parson signed the Siddens Bening Hands-Free Law, which went into effect on Aug. 28. So what does it mean for the people of Missouri?

The hands-free law forbids drivers from holding or supporting cell phones or wireless devices with any part of their body. Instead, drivers can use stands for their phones.

Drivers are also prohibited from manually typing, texting, writing, calling, including video calls, reading, recording, watching videos, or making social media posts.

Drivers must use Bluetooth for calls, voice-activated apps, and device features like GPS, thus keeping their attention on the road.

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, distracted driving has been a leading cause of crashes in Missouri. Between 2012 and 2021, Missouri had nearly 200,000 distracted driving-related crashes, which resulted in at least 801 fatalities.

“We’ve seen a troubling and unacceptable trend of distracted driving crashes in recent years, and sadly, more times than not, someone other than the distracted driver was killed,” said MoDOT State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer Nicole Hood. “We’re thankful the General Assembly and Gov. Parson recognized the need for a hands-free law in Missouri. We’re hopeful this law will change the safety culture around phone use while driving and save lives.”

Penalties will be enforced for those who disobey the law, starting at $150 for the first offense and increasing for each repeated violation.

Enhanced penalties will be given if the violation occurs in a school or active work zone where workers are present. Additionally, criminal charges will be pressed for crashes resulting in property damage, injury, or death.

“The Siddens Bening Hands-Free Law is an important step towards reducing the number and severity of cell phone related distracted driving crashes,” said Captain John Hotz, Director of Public Information and Education for the Missouri State Highway Patrol. “The passage of the law provides law enforcement officers with an additional tool to help stop motorists from being distracted by their cell phones. The Missouri State Highway Patrol will continue to focus on educating the public about the dangers of distracted driving to prevent traffic crashes from occurring.”


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