Recently in Distracted Driving Category

Adults age 25-39 most likely to admit to texting and driving

iphones.jpgAs Columbia car accident lawyers, we know that distracted driving is a major issue facing teen drivers - but recent research shows many older drivers may be just as vulnerable to accidents caused by texting and driving. According to a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, adult drivers between age 25 and 39 were the most likely to admit to texting and driving. In fact, while only 20 percent of teens admitted to texting while behind the wheel, over 40 percent of drivers in the older age group said they used a cell phone "fairly often" or "regularly."

Furthermore, the survey also revealed that "88 percent of motorists believe distracted driving is a bigger problem now than it was three years ago. About 89 percent believe that other drivers talking on a cellphone while driving is a serious threat to their personal safety, while nearly all (96 percent) believe that others texting or emailing behind the wheel is a serious threat." Indeed, federal data reveals that distraction is a contributing factor in 1/10th of all fatal accidents in the U.S. each year - that's more than 3,000 deaths tied to distracted driving.

The AAA's survey indicates that older drivers can be just as prone to distracted driving behaviors as younger drivers. However, given the prevalence of mobile device usage among teens, distracted driving remains a serious problem for the younger set. What can parents do to discourage cell phone use in their teen drivers? Below, we offer a few tips.

Keeping your teen driver safe: What parents can do to curb distracted driving

• Always set a good example. When you're behind the wheel, put your phone away and avoid other distracting activities, like eating, drinking, and fiddling with the radio or GPS. Remember, as a parent, you're your child's first driving teacher - and research shows you can have a significant impact on your teen's driving education. Model the behaviors you expect from your teen.

• Establish clear ground rules about safe driving. Make sure your teen knows what you expect so there's no confusion about what kind of behavior is acceptable when driving. Many parents find it useful to develop a parent/teen driving contract that lays out rules, expectations and consequences.

• Consider using a monitoring device. These devices can track your teen's driving behaviors - some insurers even offer these at a reduced cost. There are also several useful apps that can be downloaded onto Apple or Android devices which work to prevent texting and driving.

Continue reading "Adults age 25-39 most likely to admit to texting and driving" »

Texting, talking, taking "selfies": How distraction leads to Columbia car accidents

January 24, 2014

IMG_2767.JPGBy now, most people are aware that various forms of cell phone use are a serious threat to roadway safety, both here in Missouri and throughout the U.S. The vast majority of car accidents are entirely preventable and many are caused by drivers who have divided their focus between watching the road and performing another task - often using an electronic device. "You talk to any cognitive psychologist, they've known this for decades, that the human brain can only focus on one attention-requiring task at any given moment," said David Teater, senior director for the National Safety Council. "The other task is always in the background."

And it's no secret that the problem of distracted driving is particularly prominent among teens, who, in today's world, are likely to text frequently throughout the day. Due largely to their inexperience behind the wheel, teen drivers already have high crash risks, so adding a distraction to the mix can be especially dangerous. And it's not just texting that's the problem: numerous studies have indicated that talking on a phone - even if it's hands-free - increases a driver's chances of having an accident. Further, as technology continues to evolve, so do the forms of distraction plaguing drivers. One currently popular trend involves drivers taking "selfies," or self-portraits, while they're behind the wheel. In fact, CNN reports that "Instagram shows more than 3,727 posts under the #drivingselfie hashtag, more than 1,869 for the plural #drivingselfies, and more than 9,700 for #drivingtowork. Some users add the optimistic tag, #Ihopeidontcrash."

Facts about distracted driving:

• Sending a text message (or engaging in "visual-manual subtasks," like reaching for a phone or dialing a number) while driving makes you three times more likely to be involved in a crash.

• According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),3,328 people were killed in 2012 distraction-affected accidents throughout the U.S. In addition, approximately 421,000 others suffered injury in these crashes.

• About 171.3 billion text messages were sent in the United States each month, as of December 2012.

• At any moment during daylight hours in the U.S., an estimated 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other electronic devices while operating their vehicles.

• Of drivers under age 20 involved in fatal accidents, about 11% were reported as distracted when the accidents occurred. Data from NHTSA indicates that this age group has the biggest proportion of distracted drivers.

• 25% of teen drivers respond to a text message one or more times every time they get behind the wheel. What's more, 20% of teens and 10% of parents say they have "extended, multi-message text conversations while driving."

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Today's teenagers more likely to wear buckle up, drive sober, but 1 in 3 admit to texting and driving

August 15, 2013

girlwithphone.jpgAs Columbia personal injury lawyers, we know that texting and driving poses a serious threat to roadway safety - and that young drivers are especially prone to this form of distraction. A 2011 study conducted by the Ad Council found that 77% of teen drivers felt "very or somewhat confident that they could safely text while driving." What's more, the Centers for Disease Control's most recent National Youth Risk Behavior Survey revealed alarming data about teens' texting and driving habits. The results of the nationwide survey, which assesses health-risk behaviors among young people, were a mixed bag of good news and bad news. While teen drivers have shown "significant process" in areas like seat belt usage and drunk driving, distraction (particularly texting and emailing) remains a prominent risk factor.

"We are encouraged that more of today's high school students are choosing healthier, safer behaviors, such as wearing seat belts, and are avoiding behaviors that we know can cause them harm, such as binge drinking or riding with impaired drivers," said Howell Wechsler, director of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health, in a news release. "However, these findings also show that despite improvements, there is a continued need for government agencies, community organizations, schools, parents, and other community members to work together to address the range of risk behaviors prevalent among our youth."

Significant findings of the CDC's National Youth Risk Behavior Survey:

• Over the last 20 years, the number of teen drivers who never or rarely wear seat belts has dropped dramatically (from 26% in 1991 to 8% in 2011).

• Within the same time period, the number of teens who admitted to riding in a vehicle operated by a drunk driver also declined (from 40 to 24).

• Only 8% of teen drivers said they had driven a vehicle after drinking alcohol within the last 30 days, compared to 17% in 1997.

• However, about 1 out of 3 teens (32.8%) said they had sent at least one text message or email while driving within the previous 30 days.

U.S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called texting and driving "an epidemic" when he released the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's official "Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving." The Blueprint outlines a practical, comprehensive strategy to reduce distracted driving accidents throughout the country. "We need to teach kids, who are the most vulnerable drivers, that texting and driving don't mix," LaHood said at a news conference.

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Hands-free isn't risk-free: New distracted driving study reveals dangers of hands-free devices

bluetooth_headset_2.jpgIt's no secret that distracted driving is a common factor in many fatal auto accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distracted driving contributes to more than 9 deaths and 1,060 injuries every day in the United States. As our Columbia car accident lawyers know, cell phone use is one of the most notorious forms of distraction, and texting has proven to be especially hazardous for drivers. Texting requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention, meaning it takes a driver's eyes off the road, his hands off the wheel, and his mind off the task of driving. In recent years, new forms of "hands-free" technology have been developed to help discourage driver distraction. However, new studies have recently found that hands-free devices may actually just create a new - and dangerous - source of distraction.

A recent study conducted by Dr. David Strayer
and researchers at the University of Utah observed changes in brainwaves, eye movement and other mental capacities when drivers attempted to "multi-task" while operating motor vehicles. To fully examine the effect of these activities on brain function, researchers had drivers engage in relatively common activities: listening to the radio, listening to audio books, talking on the phone, and listening or responding to voice-activated emails. After observing the effects of these cognitive distractions, researchers were able to identify three levels of mental distraction, according to the severity of the distraction created by different tasks. The first category includes tasks that create minimal risks for drivers, such as listening to the radio. The second category consists of more hazardous tasks that create moderate roadway risks, including talking on a cell phone (whether the device is handheld or hands-free). The third category is comprised of the most risky roadway tasks, which include listening and responding to in-vehicle devices and voice-activated features on cellular devices.

According to the study, hands-free and voice-activated devices require drivers to focus on responding to those devices, which lessens the amount of brain activity associated with driving. In other words, the cognitive demands of responding to voice automated devices create hazards for the driver because of the increased mental workload. "These new, speech-based technologies in the car can overload the driver's attention and impair their ability to drive safely," said Dr. Strayer, a Professor of Cognition and Neural Science. "An unintended consequence of trying to make driving safer - by moving to speech-to-text, in-vehicle systems - may actually overload the driver and make them less safe."

These recent findings have led many safety organizations to warn manufacturers and the general public of the dangers accompanied with voice-activated and hands-free devices. In response to Dr. Strayer's study, Robert Darbelnet, President and CEO of AAA, made a statement urging manufacturers of vehicle and electronic devices to consider the risks of building "potentially dangerous mental distractions" into vehicles. Darbelnet also advises manufacturers to add devices that disable voice-activated electronics while vehicles are in use. "Specifically, these increasingly common voice-driven, in-vehicle technologies should be limited to use for just core driving tasks unless the activity results in no significant driver distraction," Darbelnet said.

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Missouri in the minority when it comes to texting and driving laws

683316_mobile_communications.jpgAs 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. 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.

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Distracted driving dangers: Preventing distraction-related car accidents in Columbia and throughout Missouri

file000897811811.jpgAccording to a recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nine out of 10 U.S. drivers believe that distracted driving is a bigger problem now than it was a mere three years ago. Unbelievably, despite growing awareness of this problem, 53% of survey respondents admitted to sending texts or emails while behind the wheel. "As a safety advocate, AAA finds it concerning that the majority of motorists recognize distracted driving dangers, yet choose to engage in them anyway," said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. "Drivers of all ages contribute to this problem. However, this issue tends to be more prevalent among young drivers, as electronic devices, such as cell phones, are proven to be the most common form of distraction for teens."

Facts about distraction and its effect on driving performance:

• There are four basic kinds of distraction: visual (looking at something besides the road); cognitive (thinking about something other than driving); physical (using your hands to perform a non-driving related task); and auditory (listening to something not associated with driving). Depending on the cause of a driver's distractedness, more than one of these forms of distraction may occur at the same time.

• Numerous studies indicate that all forms of distraction have a detrimental effect on driving performance. However, texting is widely viewed as the most "alarming" source of distractedness because it involves three of the four basic kinds of distraction (visual, cognitive and physical). Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than non-distracted drivers.

• While texting may be one of the most driving risky behaviors, it's certainly not the only distraction that can increase a driver's risk of having an auto accident. Other potentially dangerous non-driving related tasks include using a cell phone (whether it's hand-held or hands-free), eating and drinking, talking to passengers, reaching for objects, and fiddling with the radio. Trying to perform any of these tasks while behind the wheel reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving, making you less likely to identify potential roadway emergencies and respond to them promptly and safely.

Avoiding distraction: Tips for Columbia drivers

• Turn off your electronic devices when you're behind the wheel. Stowing them where you can't see or reach them can help you avoid the temptation to use them while driving. If you can't turn off or silence your phone while you're driving, pull over in a safe location to answer important calls or messages.

• If you're traveling with passengers, have a companion answer any calls or messages that can't wait until you arrive at your destination.

• Don't try to save time by performing certain tasks during your drive-time. If you're short on time, don't try to make up a few minutes by eating or grooming while you're behind the wheel.

• Remember that safe travel (for you, your passengers, and the other motorists traveling near you) should be your number one priority. The vast majority of non-driving related tasks can wait until you've arrived safely at your destination. Help reduce preventable accidents caused by driver distraction, and keep your attention on the road.

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Man pleads guilty to reckless driving in distracted driving crash that killed pregnant woman and her unborn child

November 9, 2012

833165_speed.jpgA New Jersey man has pleaded guilty to reckless driving over a year after he caused a distracted driving accident that killed a pregnant woman and her unborn child. According to the Washington Township Times, 22 year-old Daniel Pereira entered the plea in municipal court, where his case was sent when county prosecutors decided they did not have a criminal case against him.

On June 1, 2011, Pereira was behind the wheel, allegedly distracted by looking at the GPS system on his phone, when his vehicle drifted across the center line into oncoming traffic. One car was able to swerve out of the way, but Pereira hit the next vehicle head on. The driver, 28 year-old Toni Donato-Bolis, was killed in the crash, along with her unborn son, Ryan. Her due date was only two days after the accident: she was driving home from her last doctor's appointment when Pereira drifted into her path.

Following an investigation of the crash, prosecutors found themselves unable to indict Pereira on criminal charges, and so they were forced to pursue his case in municipal court. In exchange for his plea, Pereira will lose his license for a year and pay a fine of $257. Over the next three years, he is also required to attend three anti-distracted driving presentations given by Donato-Bolis's sister, Angela Donato, who became active in spreading awareness about distracted driving after the crash. She visits local school's to tell Toni's story, and she testified about the accident in front of the New Jersey legislature earlier this year.

In fact, Angela Donato and her family worked tirelessly to support the Kulesh, Kubert and Bolis Bill, which was signed into law in July of this year. Under the new law, prosecutors can charge distracted drivers with vehicular assault or homicide when they cause accidents that result in serious injuries or fatalities. Had the law been in place in June 2011, Pereira would have faced much more severe consequences. "Now I can say [Toni] didn't die in vain," said Angela Donato. "Her name is honored, her memory is honored."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 39 states, Washington D.C. and Guam have laws that prohibit all drivers from texting when they're behind the wheel. In addition, 10 states, D.C. and the Virgin Islands ban all cell phone use in all drivers. Missouri remains one of the only states that have yet to pass a texting ban: our state's only distracted driving law prohibits texting in drivers age 21 and younger.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the dangers of using electronic devices while driving. According to research from Monash University, drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to be involved in accidents that cause injuries. And a 2011 Harris Poll found that 60% of drivers use cell phones in some manner when they're on the road. Safety advocates stress that awareness - especially among young people - is the only way to stop these accidents.

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Prosecutors: Couple was taking cell phone photos prior to fatal head-on crash with motorcycle

October 18, 2012

879513_rural_road.jpgAn Oregon woman has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, reckless driving and recklessly endangering others after police say she caused a distracted driving crash that killed a motorcyclist. According to the Register-Guard, authorities arrested 28 year-old Veronica Avila Diaz in connection with the crash. Additionally, Diaz's husband, 31 year-old Jose Antonio Cejas-Gutierrez, was also taken into custody on charges of hindering prosecution and interfering with a police officer.

Law enforcement officials say Diaz was driving south in a minivan when she crossed the highway's center line and struck a Kawasaki Vulcan touring bike. The rider, 72 year-old Kenneth Douglas "Doug" Carroll, was ejected from the motorcycle and pronounced dead at the scene. Diaz, Gutierrez and their passengers - three children, ages five, ten and five months - were uninjured in the accident.

A third vehicle travelling behind Carroll had to swerve to avoid the minivan and the motorcycle. It subsequently crashed into a ditch. No one in that vehicle was seriously injured.

Authorities believe Gutierrez, who was riding in the front passenger seat, was taking photographs of his wife using a cell phone in the moments leading up to the crash. As a result, prosecutors say both Gutierrez and Diaz became dangerously distracted, prompting the accident. In addition, they say Gutierrez initially lied to investigators, telling them he was driving the van when the crash occurred.

Normally, when we think of distracted driving, we automatically think of texting. And for good reason: indeed, texting is one of the most dangerous forms of distraction for drivers, since it involves the use of your hands (manual distraction), the use of your eyes (visual distraction), and the use of your brain (cognitive distraction). However, the term distracted driving refers to "any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving." And there are a numerous ways drivers can become distracted, thereby endangering themselves, their passengers, and other innocent motorists on the road. Activities like eating and drinking, talking to passengers, reader, using a GPS device, watching a video and playing with a cell phone may seem innocent, but they can be deadly when you're behind the wheel.

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Vermont teen takes plea deal for distracted driving accident that seriously injured pedestrian

October 12, 2012

file0001483118872.jpgThe trial of a Vermont teenager facing a felony charge ended today when the teen accepted a plea deal. In an unexpected move, the Burlington Free Press reports, 19 year-old Emma Vieira has pleaded guilty to gross negligent operation of a motor vehicle resulting in injury.

The charge against Vieira stemmed from an August 2011 accident that seriously injured a pedestrian. Authorities say Vieira was traveling near the 25 mile per hour speed limit when she struck a woman and a dog on the shoulder of the road. The woman, Deb Drewniak, sustained a traumatic brain injury in the collision. Her dog was killed.

Several factors appeared to have contributed to the incident. Drewniak was wearing dark clothes. The stretch of road, though straight, is not well-lit. Investigators found no evidence that Vieira had swerved from the roadway, and she was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, she had been texting while behind the wheel - though she wasn't technically doing so when the accident occurred.

Vieira's phone records indicate that she sent and received several text messages in the minutes before the accident. But her lawyer said the last text was sent at 9:24 p.m., minutes prior to when Vieira turned onto the road where Drewniak was standing with her dog. "Emma is innocent," defense attorney Sarah Reed said in court. "The evidence will show that this was an accident that could have happened to anyone who was driving down that dark road." And an accident reconstruction expert testified that there was "no way this accident was going to be avoided."

But prosecutors maintained that the crash was caused by Vieira's gross negligence, pointing out that she deleted the offending messages immediately after the crash, and that she told police she had not been using her phone. When she reported the accident, Vieira told emergency responders that Drewniak and her dog had been walking in the middle of the road, but police say the evidence suggests that Drewniak was on the shoulder of the roadway.

The trial was expected to conclude on Friday. On Thursday, the judge and jury had been scheduled to visit the crash site during the nighttime hours, but the plea deal made the field trip unnecessary. Under its terms, Vieira also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of simple negligent operation. She will receive a five-year deferred sentence, essentially probation. She could serve six months in jail or in home confinement, depending on the judge's decision. Originally, she was facing a 15 year prison term.

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Can "good multi-taskers" text and drive safely? New study says no

August 14, 2012

file7071257952599.jpgBy now, we all know that texting and driving contributes to numerous U.S. car accidents every single day. And yet, sadly, some drivers continue to read and send messages while they're behind the wheel. According to safety advocates, many of these drivers genuinely believe that they can text and drive safely because they're skilled at multi-tasking. However, a new study has revealed that, in terms of texting and driving, good multi-taskers don't exist.

The study, conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, examined 32 college students who sat at computer screens. The students were first asked to complete a basic matching exercise without any distractions. Then, they were asked to repeat the matching exercise while providing walking directions to another student - they could choose to communicate the directions via instant message software or voice chat. The findings? Multi-tasking invariably caused performance of both tasks to suffer. Overall, reports ABC News, "the percentage of eye fixations on the matching-task grids declined from 76% when that was the participants' only task to 33% during multitasking."

Interestingly, however, the results also revealed that certain forms of multi-tasking are considerably more dangerous than others. Humans perform more efficiently when multi-tasking if the tasks involve two different kinds of sensory stimuli - for example, students who used voice chat (audio) while performing the matching exercise (visual) fared better than those who used instant messaging (also a visual task). Students who gave audio directions had an average 30% drop in matching performance, but those who used instant messaged showed a 50% performance drop.

The study's most troubling discovery, however, has to do with people's perception of their own performance when multi-tasking: "Participants who faced two visual challenges thought they had performed much better than they had," according to ABC. "Their ability to concentrate on the images dropped by 50 percent, yet they thought they had done just fine. Participants who had to watch and talk at the same time also saw their performance drop, by 30 percent, and they were slightly more aware of that." In other words, the students who tried to perform two visual tasks at once were more confident that they performed well, when, in fact, their performance suffered the most.

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Have you suffered catastrophic injuries in a Columbia car crash?

1262386_handicap_cracks.jpgSadly, catastrophic injuries are common in Missouri car accidents. Victims sometimes suffer life-long pain and disability. If this sounds like you or a loved one, you are likely highly stressed, scared, and angry. You're wondering how to cover all those medical bills - not to mention your regular monthly expenses, like rent, utilities, and food.

Car accidents can result in varying degrees of injury, depending on the circumstances that cause the crash. The following factors tend to affect the severity of injuries sustained in a car wreck:

• The location of the impact on the vehicle(s)
• The severity of the collision
• The type of automobiles involved
• The age and health condition of the parties involved

Unfortunately, car accidents frequently end in serious, life-altering injury. Here are some of the most common kinds of catastrophic injuries connected to car wrecks:

• Brain injuries (including skull fractures, brain swelling and nerve damage)
• Neck and spine injuries (including both whiplash, soft tissue injury, and skeletal injury - which can cause loss of motor functions)
• Face injuries (including lacerations, eye injuries, broken teeth and broken noses)
• Broken bones and or/joint damage
• Mental health issues (including depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder

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Driver Distractions: A Top Cause of Car Accidents in Columbia, Missouri & Elsewhere

IMG_1720_c.JPGToday is a big day for college basketball lovers - and especially for Mizzou fans here in Columbia: it marks the beginning of the NCAA tournament. While the Tigers don't play until tomorrow evening, we know that lots of Missourians follow the entire tournament closely - and with the help of modern technology, you can watch a game pretty much anywhere. There are several apps that offer live updates and streaming game film. While our Columbia car accident attorneys love March Madness, we hope you won't make the mistake of checking your bracket while you're behind the wheel.

By now, most drivers are familiar with risks and consequences of distracted driving, and yet a good number of them continue to engage in distracting behaviors - especially cell phone use. According to the Governors' Highway Safety Association, it's legal for all licensed drivers in the state of Missouri to talk on cell phone while driving. As for text messaging, only drivers under the age of 21 are prohibited from sending and receiving texts at the wheel. In sum, Missouri has some of the most relaxed distraction-related laws in the country.

In 2010, there were approximately 3,100 people who lost their lives on U.S. roadways because of distraction-related car accidents - accidents that are completely preventable with a little bit of driver responsibility. Safety officials strongly recommend that drivers curb as many distractions as possible while operating a motor vehicle. "Inattention is a leading cause of traffic crashes," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Colonel Replogle.

During the first half of 2010, there were nearly 800 Missouri traffic accidents that were caused by distracted drivers: these accidents resulted in nearly 10 fatalities and roughly 240 injuries. To help reduce the risks of distraction-related car accidents, we offer you a few simple rules and safety tips to help increase roadway safety for all drivers.

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The Cost of Distracted Driving in Columbia, Missouri and Nationwide

February 24, 2012

1125666_misty_morn.jpgAnnually, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety releases its Traffic Safety Culture Index, a national survey designed to assess traffic safety knowledge, attitudes, opinions, and behaviors. Our Columbia, Missouri auto accident attorneys were shocked by some of the 2011 findings: the AAA's most recent Index revealed that nearly 1 in 2 Americans have either been involved in a serious crash, or have a loved one who was seriously injured or killed in a car accident. Or both.

Of late, one of the most common causes of car accidents is distracted driving, usually associated with cell phones or other hand-held electronic devices: the survey indicated that 71% of respondents feel that using a handheld cell phone while driving creates a serious safety threat. However, 68% of drivers surveyed admitted to talking on their phones while driving within the last 30 days. The difference between drivers' attitude and behavior is even more distinct with respect to texting:

Most people view drivers texting and emailing while driving as a very serious threat to their own personal safety and consider it completely unacceptable. However, more than 1 in 6 drivers (17%) don't perceive social disapproval from others; more than 1 in 4 (26%) admit to typing or sending a text message or email while driving in the past month; and more than 1 in 3 (35%) report reading a text message or email while driving in the past month.

Further, consider this observation, from the discussion portion of the index:

Although many Americans seem to think traffic safety is important generally, the survey findings reveal a "do as I say, not as I do" attitude among drivers. For example, substantial numbers of drivers say that it is completely unacceptable to text message or talk on a cell phone while driving, yet admit to doing so anyway.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the average driver using a handheld device is four times more likely to get into an accident. Since 2009, more than half a million drivers have been injured or killed in car accidents resulting from distracted driving. And a 2009 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute concluded that truck drivers are 23 times more likely to crash if they are texting while behind the wheel.

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Distracted Jefferson City, Missouri Drivers Cause 25% of All Car Accidents

February 16, 2012

IMG_1723_u.JPGIt is estimated that 25% of all car, truck, and motorcycle accidents on Jefferson City, Missouri roadways are caused by distracted drivers. Consider the implications of that statement: if drivers made driving their sole focus, 25% of all Jeff City accidents would be prevented.

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that takes your attention away from the road. The most common culprit is texting while driving; however, there are many others forms of distracted driving as well.

Putting on makeup, eating, turning around to check on children or a pet, picking up a dropped item, adjusting the radio, reading, and talking on a cell phone have all been linked to distracted driving accidents. In addition, when a teen driver is behind the wheel, research has shown that peer passengers significantly increase the risk of an accident. Add one passenger to a teen driver's vehicle, and the chances of a fatal crash instantly double. Add three or more passengers, and the risk is quadrupled.

How do I avoid distracted driving?

Remind yourself - and your teenagers - that driving is a huge responsibility. You hold your own life and the lives of others in your hands. While you're driving on Missouri roadways, nothing is as important as driving safely.

If you need to text, take a call, or deal with the kids, pull off the roadway. That minute you take may save a life, even your life or that of your children.

Is distracted driving illegal in Missouri?

Absolutely, distracted driving causes a hazard so it's thereby illegal on Missouri roadways. Texting while driving is illegal for all those 21 and younger. Bills limiting texting and cell phone use were introduced into the state legislature in 2009 and 2010.

It is possible that a full ban on texting will be Missouri law relatively soon. However, because texting is a driving hazard, it is in your best interest to consider texting while driving to be against the law presently. If you're texting while driving and you cause an accident, the court will likely find that you were not exercising the required due care.

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High Tech Cars Increase Risk of Car Accidents in Columbia, Missouri and Elsewhere

February 2, 2012

1309469_robotic_hand.jpgNew technologies continue to transform our vehicles from practical and useful forms of transportation to high-tech capsules where driving, for some, is just a sideshow. David Strickland, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), plans to change all that. During a conference, Telematics Detroit 2011, he informed the crowd about his plans to oppose entertaining and unsafe technologies in vehicles. He maintains that these unnecessary features contribute to distracted driving, Government Computer News Reports. "I'm just putting everyone on notice," Strickland said, "A car is not a mobile device."

Our Columbia car accident attorneys understand the popularity of these technological devices, but we also understand the accompanying risks and the possibility of a car accident in Marshall, Sedalia and Lamar. We urge all drivers to focus on the roadways while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Devices can wait until you're stopped. There's no reason to put your life, or the life of another motorist, at risk just to answer a phone call, to check your mail or to tweet.

The crowd at the conference probably wasn't his ideal audience, as they view motor vehicles as "ultimate" mobile devices that can combine an unlimited number of features and technologies. The title of their website's homepage reads just that: "Telematics is Here to Stay! Take Note of Consumer Demands As the Car Becomes the Ultimate Mobile Device."

It's worth noting that the same outcry was heard when radios were first installed in automobiles. But the difference, according to some safety experts, is the interactive nature of today's technology.

Strickland says that he's not opposed to decking out cars, and he's not trying to get everyone to resort back to a horse and buggy. He is actually in favor for some of the newer, useful features, like Global Positioning System navigation, automated emergency notification and internal diagnostics. What he's not an advocate for are on-board systems for entertainment and social media, at least not in the car.

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