Missouri Drivers Must Use The Highest Degree of Care When Behind The Wheel

Under Missouri law, the driver of a motor vehicle on the public roads is charged with using the "highest degree of care" at all times. This means the degree of caution that a VERY careful and prudent driver would use under the circumstances.

Missouri Standard for Driver Highest Degree of Care

This standard applies to all aspects of driver conduct including:

• speed

• keeping a careful lookout for danger in all directions

• having the preparedness to slow, stop or swerve upon the first appearance of danger

In the event of a motor vehicle collision or single car accident resulting in a claim or lawsuit for injury, death or property damage, legal responsibility will rest upon whether this standard of care has been met or not. The standard applies to drivers of automobiles, motorcycles, trucks and other motorized vehicles on the public streets and highways.

The reason the Legislature has set the standard of care so high is that a motor vehicle is considered to be a seriously dangerous instrumentality, especially when operated in an inattentive or negligent manner. When an accident occurs and a claim is made, this is what "fault" is based upon. Who was "at fault" will rest upon who did not meet the standard of care required by law.

Dangerous Consequences of Distracted Drivers

This strong duty of care, shared by all motor vehicle operators, is a reminder that distractions such as cell phone usage, texting while driving or engaging in other distractive activity is, in almost all instances, a failure to meet the duty of care and could establish liability if there is a motor vehicle accident. Of course, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs of any kind is, by definition, a violation of the duty of care. Too often, one or more of these activities are the cause of accidents resulting in serious injury or death.


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