Missouri has a ban on texting while driving, but only for a select few drivers. Specifically the ban on texting behind the wheel, in place since 2009, only applies to drivers who are 21 years or younger. Granted, this is a key at-risk demographic, but the question is, how effective is it even for this group?

Not very effective, some are saying.

In fact, a recent survey by The Columbia Missourian and picked up by the Insurance Journal web site newspaper of those who have received tickets for violating the texting while driving ban found that an average of just four tickets a month have been handed out. In most cases those individuals paid a fine of about $25, unless they were involved in a vehicle collision as a result of texting behind the wheel, then they paid the maximum penalty of $200.

It is also worth noting that police in only half of Missouri’s 114 counties even gave out any citations for violating the texting while driving ban. That means those average 4 tickets per month were coming from about 50 counties. Whether police in other 50 or so counties are not interested in enforcing the texting while driving ban, or if drivers in those counties are not violating the law is impossible for us to determine.

There is also something to be said for the difficulty police face in trying to enforce the law. As written, the law bans only the sending and reading of text messages, but not other uses of handheld devices. Police are also unable to confiscate the phones, which means unless they actually witness the person sending a text, or the driver has a vehicle crash due to texting, it is nearly impossible for them to know whether that driver deserves a citation.

Missouri is not the only state grappling with the correct way to protect drivers from the dangers of texting while driving. It seems likely that changes to these laws are coming. Eventually.