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The momentum is growing for banning text messaging while driving, as Illinois and Missouri have put in restrictions on the practice.
The Missouri law is unique because it only bans the practice for drivers under 21. These texting youths will be subject to a $200 fine if they are caught after the law kicks in Friday. Missouri is the only state that singles out an age group for the SMS restriction, according to the Department of Transportation.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a measure Thursday that would also ban sending SMS messages while operating a car. This ban wouldn't just hit text-happy teens, as it also applies to mobile professionals trying to send out e-mails or instant messages while driving.
The Illinois law takes effect Jan. 1, and it will come with a starting fine of $75. Users will be able to send mobile messages if traffic is stopped and the car is parked or in neutral, the motorist has pulled over to the shoulder, or to report an emergency.
Illinois and Missouri join the growing list of states that have banned the practice or are considering it. Alaska, California, the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Washington have already outlawed texting while driving, and multiple states are also mulling legislation. Additionally, there is momentum for federal legislation that would require all states to ban the practice or face reductions in federal highway funds.
The laws come as text messaging has exploded in popularity, as the CTIA said the number of SMS messages has increased tenfold over the last three years. These bans can be difficult to enforce though because it is relatively easy for a motorist to conceal sending a quick text message while driving.
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