The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 26, 2013

Our View: Distracted, dangerous

The Joplin Globe

— There was a time when we thought the government should keep its long reach out of the inside of our cars.

 We are talking about attempts to make it illegal for everyone — not just young drivers — to text while driving. Our analogy was that you can’t legislate stupid.

 Time and tragedy have changed our minds. We wish they would change those of our legislators.

 And maybe they would if they all sat in a room and watched the Missouri State Highway Patrol video called “Gone Too Soon.” The video was shown on Tuesday at Con-way Truckload’s Joplin headquarters as part of the National Safety Council’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It includes some very graphic images from Missouri crashes — decapitated drivers and bodies with missing arms and legs. It definitely makes a statement.

 More than 40,000 traffic accidents in the state each year are attributed to inattentive or distracted drivers. Not all of those occur because someone was texting and driving. Some involve drivers who are talking on their cellphone or eating or putting on makeup. Some are hard to define, but texting while driving is one distraction we think more people could live without.

 In 2012, Missouri legislators failed to pass a texting law that would expand the law that currently makes it illegal for drivers 21 and younger to text while driving.

 This legislative session appears to be heading down the same road.

 Yet, drivers who text are 23 times more likely to cause a crash.

 Thirty-nine other states ban text messaging for all drivers.

 We think it’s time that Missouri becomes No. 40.