For the first time in its seven-year history, Buckle Up Phone Down is the law in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Transportation and the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, along with various safety partners across the state, marked this milestone during the seventh annual Buckle Up Phone Down Day challenge on Oct. 25.
In August, the Siddens-Bening Hands-Free Law took effect in Missouri, prohibiting all drivers from using a handheld electronic communication device while driving. The law aims to address distracted driving, which contributed to crashes that claimed the lives of more than 800 people across the state from 2012-2021. Paired with the requirement to wear a seat belt, the enactment of the hands-free legislation means BUPD is officially law in Missouri.
Under this law, drivers are prohibited from physically holding or supporting a cell phone with any part of their body; manually typing, writing, sending, or reading text-based messages; recording, posting, sending or broadcasting video, including video calls and social media posts; and watching a video or movie.
“Every single driver plays a role in combating the safety crisis happening on our roads,” said Nicole Hood, Missouri State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer. “The significance of this new hands-free law reinforces everyone’s shared responsibility to use safe driving behaviors when they get behind the wheel.”
Since the creation of BUPD in 2017, Missouri’s seat belt usage rate reached an all-time high and the percentage of fatalities who were unbuckled has decreased. The movement has collected more than 35,000 pledges to BUPD and has expanded to more than a dozen states across the country.
“Despite these successes, there is still a lot of work to be done to eliminate fatalities from our roadways,” said Hood. “The new law is a huge step in the right direction, but it’s on all of us to make the right decisions behind the wheel. Lives – including your own – are on the line.”