According to Missouri State Highway Patrol’s statistics, the number of people killed in motor vehicle accidents across the state is up nine percent over last year. There is no clear answer why, although the MSHP says distracted drivers in Missouri represent a leading cause of all the state’s motor vehicle accidents.
But what constitutes the top driver distraction?
Most people suspect it’s talking with someone on a cell phone. According to a new study, for teenager drivers it’s talking with someone in the seat right next to them.
The AAA Foundation released its latest study results on teen drivers, which is part of a multi-year effort that utilizes videos of crashes involving teen drivers. Over 2,000 crash videos were included in the research. More specifically, researchers examined what the teen drivers were doing just moments before they crashed.
Top Teen Driver Distraction: Speaking with Passengers
The researchers were then able to determine the distracting factors for young drivers that lead to an accident. The top distraction for teen drivers was talking with passengers in the vehicle. That happened just prior to 15 percent of the accidents.
The next leading distraction was the cell phone. Young drivers were talking, texting or otherwise using their cell phone in 12 percent of the crashes studied. In 11 percent of the teen driver crashes, they were preoccupied with something else inside the vehicle.
While talking with passengers was the top distraction for teenagers, the cell phone may soon catch up. In this research, more teen drivers were actually texting on their phones just prior to a crash than speaking into it. Texting has become such an engrained habit of today’s teens – and maybe older drivers as well – they may feel comfortable taking their eyes off the road to use their phone.
Regardless of age, a driver’s focus leaves the road for about five seconds when texting. Traveling at 55 mph, a car or truck will travel about the length of a football field in those five seconds.
Missouri’s Texting and Driving Laws
This is particularly worrisome in Missouri. There is no state law banning drivers from talking on their cell phones. Texting and driving is prohibited – but for only those 21 years old and younger. So could this be leading to more distracted drivers and the increase in Missouri’s fatal traffic accidents?
If you had a loved one killed or you were catastrophically injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, an attorney who represents victims of serous motor vehicle accidents can investigate your case, determine who was responsible, and hold them accountable.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.