Missouri’s distracted drivers put everyone on the road at risk

In spite of Missouri having a law on the books making it a primary traffic offense - meaning that a law enforcement officer can pull you over solely for that offense without the need for an additional traffic violation like speeding - for novice drivers to text behind the wheel, the epidemic of texting continues. Novice drivers (defined by Missouri statutes as someone under the age of 21) could face a fine of up to $200 for texting, but that apparently isn't a sufficient enough deterrent to persuade people to stop the dangerous practice.

Sadly, motorists throughout the state are not only texting while driving, they are also performing other distracting tasks that would be safe and permissible if they weren't being done behind the wheel, including:

  • Eating/drinking
  • Reading a map or GPS system
  • Changing a CD, radio station or mp3 player
  • Talking on a cellphone
  • Checking email or surfing the web
  • Updating social networks
  • Grooming
  • Having boisterous discussions or arguments with passengers

The high price of distracted driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 400,000 people are injured in distracted-driving related accidents annually, and over 3,300 lose their lives.

Trying to get the word out

The NHTSA has developed a web resource site, Distraction.gov, solely devoted to educating the public about the dangers of distracted driving, emphasizing the issue of texting. They focus on text messaging because it, more than some other distracting actions, ties up all aspects of the driver's focus. Texting involves the brain (to mentally compose a text), eyes (to see the letters on the screen) and hands (to type it in). With the brain, eyes and hands already being used, the driver's reaction times to traffic or weather changes will be significantly higher.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has also taken action and created their own safety-oriented site aimed at convincing people to stop driving without their full attention on the road and traffic conditions. MDOT's "Arrive Alive" campaign and website provide numerous free resources devoted to public education not only about the types of behaviors/actions that are distracting, but also the physiological effect those actions have on the body systems needed to safely operate a vehicle.

Finding the help you need

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident because of the careless or negligent actions of a distracted driver, you likely have numerous questions and concerns. You could be worried about the time you'll miss from work while you heal, the mounting medical bills, the repair of your vehicle or other issues. Would you like more information about legal options you may have to hold the at-fault driver accountable? If so, speak with an experienced Missouri personal injury attorney in your area.