The Magnolia State is one of only 9 states without a full texting and driving ban.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
A phone in one hand could lead to a ticket in the other if Mississippi lawmakers can send the message they want on texting and driving.
"There will still be people that text. But if they know it's the law and that they can receive a ticket. And they'll pay a hefty fine, then possibly they'll reconsider the fact that maybe they should wait till they get home to answer a text or pull over," said State Sen. Dean Kirby.
Similar bills haven't survived in previous sessions, but Kirby believes that's because they were loaded down with other restrictions.
"I really think this year, you'll see a true texting bill and it's time for one. Matter of fact, it's overdue," Kirby said.
Currently only beginner drivers can be ticketed for texting and driving. Adults can get slapped with fines for careless driving. That makes the Magnolia State one of only 9 states not to have a full texting ban.
From an enforcement standpoint, the Mississippi Highway Patrol says there are some giveaways that someone is texting behind the wheel especially if it's after dark.
"You see it very frequently, especially at night. Got a lot of smart phones that glow about so you can pretty much see inside the vehicle on what they're doing," explained Trooper First Class Eric Henry with Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop C.
Ultimately, legislators and law enforcement agree that a texting ban is about saving lives.
"The five seconds that you are texting that's five seconds that something can happen. You can be looking down at the phone and when you look up it may be too late to react at the time," Henry said.
The highway patrol says texting and driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence, and they've seen an increase in crashes caused by drivers on their phone.
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