Missouri lawmakers are considering a move that could save a significant number of lives from fatal car accidents.
Missouri is known for many things but one of its distinctions is less than stellar. Missouri is by one account one of the most unsafe driving states in the country. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a nationwide alliance of safety groups focused on U.S. road safety, recently ranked Missouri as the third-worst state for safe driving laws.
Missouri’s Texting and Driving Law
Missouri is just one of three states that allow texting and driving. Current law bans texting and driving only for those younger than 21. All other drivers legally may engage in this risky driving behavior.
All Missourians should be concerned. Texting and driving is one of the top driver distractions today, and distracted drivers are a leading cause of deadly motor vehicle accidents.
Talking on a cell phone, especially in hand-held mode, is dangerous enough. Previous research has shown the multi-tasking required for drivers to adequately keep their focus on the road while speaking into a cell phone is difficult. That’s one reason why commercial truckers are banned by federal law from driving and using a hand-held cell phone.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently found that the number of drivers using their cellphones by hand is up dramatically. It conducted a roadside survey in 2014 to count drivers who were holding their cell phones while driving. The organization conducted the same test in 2018, reporting in January 2019 that the number of drivers observed manipulating their cell phones by hand jumped 57 percent.
Placing this reckless driving behavior in context, the IIHS reported that drivers holding and using their cell phones were a contributing factor in more than 800 road crash deaths in 2017.
Which brings us back to the Missouri lawmakers.
The Missouri legislature is considering changing the state’s rather lax texting and driving laws. There are at least six different alternatives being considered. One would prohibit texting and driving for those of any age.
Older Drivers Texting and Driving
Younger people certainly use their cellphones more than older people. Those between 16 and 24 years old have been identified as the group most likely to text and drive.
But older drivers text and drive, and apparently in growing numbers.
In September 2017 the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released the findings of a research project (“Distracted Driving Behaviors and Beliefs among Older Adults: A Long Road Analysis of the Training, Research, and Education for Driving Safety Study”) that showed older drivers are increasingly using their cell phones.
The research found that 60 percent of drivers at least 65 years old have used their cell phone, including texting, while driving.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety also uncovered a significant practice for texting and driving by drivers as a whole. Its 2017 Traffic Safety Culture Index, released in March 2018, found that 45 percent of drivers surveyed admitted to reading a text or email while driving, despite nearly 97 percent also saying they viewed texting and driving as dangerous.
Changing Missouri’s texting and driving law is a needed step, but until distracted drivers actually put their cell phones down they remain a deadly threat to others.
If you were critically hurt or you lost a family member in a crash caused by another driver, contact a lawyer who represents victims of serious car crashes to determine if texting and driving or other careless distractions were involved.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Articles January 31, 2019