Texting Awareness Foundation Encourages Police To Enforce “Don’t Text And Drive” Laws

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Following an article discussing Missouri’s poor track record with enforcing their texting-while-driving law, Texting Awareness Foundation issues a statement urging police to enforce the law, educate the public and remind people “don’t text and drive.”

On March 5, the Texting Awareness Foundation issues a response to Missouri law enforcement officials' difficulty enforcing the state's texting-while-driving law.

According to the article published on Insurance Journal, Missouri passed the law banning drivers from texting while driving in 2009. However, the article said that, since that time, officials have only attempted to prosecute a few violators, issuing them citations. The Columbia Missourian reported that less than four people per month have been caught texting, the article said. After looking at court records, the Columbia Missourian also found that no one has been punished for violating the law in any of the state’s 114 counties.

Rocco Panetta, spokesperson for the Texting Awareness Foundation, said the law might be difficult to enforce, but local police officials should make it a priority. “Many of the accidents caused by young people today involve texting and driving,” he said. “It’s more important than ever to make sure people don’t text and drive. If you see people on their cell phone, or looking down, they are probably texting. I think law enforcement agents should start looking more closely at drivers while they patrol.”

The article said that in Boone County, six of the seven people found texting while driving were punished. They were fined about $20. The seventh person hit a utility pole while texting and was fined $200, the maximum amount. The article suggests that Missouri’s laws involving cell phones are extremely lenient.

“These laws, on their own, won't really discourage teens from texting while driving,” Panetta said. “Legislation accomplishes very little without being reinforced by some kind of plan to educate the public. We need educational initiatives to drive home the very real dangers of this behavior – people need to think about why it's dangerous to do things like drink and drive, or not wear seatbelts, or use cell phones while driving. Even as texting-and-driving legislation picks up, education remains key. We need awareness-raising campaigns that are proportional to the serious risk of injury and death posed every time a person texts while driving.”

Panetta adds that local police should consider using random checkpoints to increase awareness of texting-related legislation, saying that awareness-raising and incentive in the form of punitive fines are both important strategies to make people obey safety laws.

The Texting Awareness Foundation is a federally recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that was created to remind and educate people about the dangers of texting and driving. Our goal is to keep the public informed, on a daily basis, of the possible legal and physical (body and property) dangers of texting and driving. Our “Remind You” campaign is designed to reduce accidents by simply raising awareness.

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Rocco Panetta
Texting Awareness
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