There’s a renewed effort to pass a distracted driver law in Mississippi, one of the last states not to ban all drivers from text messaging while driving.
“For five years, I’ve introduced bills that have not come out,” said state Sen. Billy Hudson, R-Hattiesburg. “It’s an issue I am still very interested in.”
“Because I’ve been to funerals, and sat in hospital emergency rooms, and seen friends and even my relatives injured or killed,” Hudson said. “… I had a cousin in a bad accident who stayed in ICU for days, and we didn’t know if she would make it. She’s crippled now … She was riding with a boyfriend … He started texting, and rolled that car over … I went to a funeral of a young girl in Forrest County. She had dropped her kid sister off at school and was texting and hit somebody head on.”
Mississippi is one of nine states that doesn’t prohibit all drivers from text messaging while driving. The state does prohibit teens with beginner licenses and school bus drivers from texting while driving.
The state Senate Transportation Committee is considering the issue again and recently held a hearing. But committee Chairman Willie Simmons and others noted the issue is a difficult one, which pits individual rights against safety. Simmons said his committee is trying to find consensus on what legislation might pass.
“It’s not just texting,” said Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood. “Where do you draw the line? A distracted driver is a distracted driver whether it’s someone on the phone, or eating, or looking at a magazine or reading a newspaper. You’d be surprised at what you see people doing.”