As our Columbia personal injury lawyers know, texting while driving is a key contributing factor in many serious car accidents. And yet, at present, Missouri is one of only six states that are holding off on enacting a texting ban for drivers of all ages. Our only current texting and driving law exclusively applies to drivers under age 21. This year, Missouri lawmakers will not pass a bill expanding the ban to include all drivers. Many safety authorities have argued that expanding the law would significantly reduce the risk of auto fatalities, especially here in Missouri: in 2012, the Missouri Highway Patrol attributed 1,600 accidents to some form of cellphone usage.
State law enforcement officials report that it's been extremely difficult to enforce the current law, leaving many citizens concerned that the ban is not being enforced at all. According to CBS St. Louis, only 70 drivers were ticketed for cellphone usage in 2012, and there are no records that document how many of those drivers were actually convicted of the offense. It is very difficult for officers to identify texting drivers, because many hide their phones below the window or in other areas that are hard to see from the exterior. Another issue is determining the age of the driver from a distance. Some lawmakers agree that expanding the texting and driving ban would help police identify offenders. Currently, lawmakers are considering all the possibilities to create safe roadways for all motorists.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. Nowadays, cell phones are a staple of modern life, leading many drivers to check their phones frequently for incoming calls, texts and emails. Many motorists do not fully recognize the dangers associated with texting and driving and the increased risk to everyone on the road. Distraction.gov reports that the average time it takes a driver to send or receive a text (approximately 4.6 seconds) is equivalent to driving the length of a football field blind at 55 mph. The dangers accompanied with texting and driving are serious and can cause deadly crashes.
It's also important to remember that distracted driving is not always associated with cellphone usage: in fact, anything that takes your eyes off of the road can be a potentially dangerous distraction. Simple tasks are among the most common distracting behaviors. Tasks such as eating, drinking, talking to passengers, operating navigation systems, and adjusting radio or car settings can be risky on the road. To prevent distracted driving, try to eliminate anything that will take your attention off the road. Set your navigation and other settings before you begin to travel. Always remember that you can pull over to the side of the road if you need to adjust settings or direct your attention to something other than driving.