February 12, 2016 16:21 ET

AAA Urges Missouri Lawmakers to Strengthen Texting Law

AAA Member Poll Shows Motorists Ardently Want Action on Texting

ST. LOUIS, MO--(Marketwired - Feb 12, 2016) - Distracted driving ranked as the No. 1 safety concern among AAA members in a recent poll. So it's no surprise that respondents in that same poll also overwhelmingly endorsed having a law to prohibit texting for all motorists, including those in Missouri, which is one of only a handful of states without a texting law that covers all drivers.

AAA members expressed their opinions about texting and driver safety in AAA's member poll, which was distributed through the AAA Midwest Traveler magazine earlier this year. More than 2,000 AAA members in Missouri, southern Illinois, eastern Kansas and southwestern Indiana expressed their views on a variety of traffic- and transportation-related topics in the poll, including road conditions, highway funding and roadway improvement priorities.

Major findings were:

Safety Concerns: Of the five safety issues offered to motorists, their primary concern was distracted drivers by far, with 54 percent of the respondents selecting that concern. Their other worries on the road included aggressive drivers (17 percent), drunk drivers (14 percent), large trucks (11 percent), and road conditions (5 percent). 

Texting Laws: Because distracted drivers are their main safety concern, motorists resolutely support measures to help eliminate those distractions. In the poll, more than 93 percent "strongly agreed" with having a law against reading, typing or sending a text while driving for all drivers. Currently, 46 states ban text messaging for all drivers, including Kansas, Illinois and Indiana. Missouri's texting ban only covers drivers 21 and younger, but the state General Assembly is considering bills to extend the prohibition to all drivers.

"There's no magic age where texting behind the wheel suddenly becomes safe," said Mike Right, vice president of AAA Public Affairs. "I don't think any Missouri driver wants someone texting while driving behind them at 60 mph as they take their eyes off the road and their mind off the task at hand, whether they're 18 or 28 or 58. It's an unsafe practice no matter what age you are."

In addition, 73 percent of poll respondents "strongly agreed" with having a law against using a hand-held phone, and 50 percent wanted a law banning any use of cell phones (hand-held or hands-free) while driving. Currently 14 states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving, including Illinois, but no state bans all cell phone use for all drivers.

Highway Conditions: Most motorists (41 percent) rated the condition of state highways as having stayed the same compared to three years ago, while 38 percent thought the condition had declined. A minority, 21 percent, said the condition of roads had improved in that time frame. But attitudes differed in each state.

AAA members in Kansas and Indiana were the most encouraged about the condition of their roads, as 29 percent of respondents in Kansas and 31 percent in Indiana rated their roads as improved. However, most respondents in Missouri (38 percent) and Illinois (46 percent) rated their roads as having declined.

Highway Funding: Studies show that not enough is being spent on our highway system to properly maintain it and provide for needed improvements. When asked if additional revenue is needed for our roads, 82 percent of respondents agreed. The response was significantly higher than the 67 percent of respondents who replied "yes" to a similar question two years ago.

When given four choices of ways to raise additional funds, the least objectionable choice to most respondents (51 percent) was to increase the motor fuel tax rate. The order of the remaining choices were to place a toll on the roads that I drive (22 percent); increase the general sales tax rate (17 percent); and finally to impose a fee on miles driven (10 percent).

Highway Priorities: Similar to previous AAA polls, resurfacing existing four-lane roads is the No. 1 priority of members for how they want their highway dollars spent. Of the other highway improvement ideas offered, four-laning existing two-lane roads and eliminating commuter bottlenecks both garnered 20 percent of the responses. The remaining ideas included adding more safety features (19 percent), and widening secondary road bridges (8 percent).

Contact Information

  • For more information contact:
    Mike Right
    (314) 523-7350 ext. 6300
    or 1-800-222-7623 ext. 6300