The Mississippi Senate passed a bill on March 9 banning texting while driving. The state is getting closer to becoming the 45th state to pass such a bill.
The Insurance Journal reported that the governor is expected to sign the measure into law if it’s not held for more debate.
“As with all bills, he will review it closely,” spokeswoman Nicole Webb wrote in an email to the Insurance Journal. “He does support the bill and plans to sign it.”
House Bill 389 would ban drivers from writing, sending or reading text messages, emails or social media messages. However, making and receiving phone calls would still be legal. The bill would set a $25 fine until July 1, 2015, and then $100 after that.
Republican Senators Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, Angela Hill of Picayune and Michael Watson of Pascagoula voted against the bill. They say the bill would allow police officers to pull people over at any time, claiming they believe someone was looking at their phone.
“It opens up Pandora’s Box in regards to your civil liberties, and the potential for abuse is too much to look away,” McDaniel told the Insurance Journal.
When proponents suggested that anyone wrongly ticketed could fight it in court, he said it was unrealistic to believe anyone would hire a lawyer to fight a $25 civil fine.
Mississippi is one of six states that is still without a texting ban, although it does ban texting for new drivers under the age of 18 and for school bus drivers.
The Insurance Journal found that some black lawmakers had opposed the 2014 bill out of fears that it could be used as a pretext by police to stop African-American drivers.
Advocates have cited studies finding bans have prevented deaths. However, McDaniel cited other studies that show texting hadn’t decreased even after bans in other states.
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