Distracted Driving In Missouri: What You Need to Know to Keep You and Others Safe
Distracted driving is dangerous, claiming 3,142 lives across the United States in 2019. The tragic reality is that most of these accidents are preventable. Join the Goss Law Firm in recognizing Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April to help make our roadways and our people safer.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is described as any activity that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving, such as talking on the phone, eating and drinking, conversing with passengers in your car, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment, or navigation system — anything that diverts your attention away from the task of safe driving.
The state of Missouri defines distracted driving as “changing the radio, eating, talking, or texting.” There are several ways that drivers can become distracted. They can be:
- Using a cell phone (sending a text message, scrolling through social media, etc.)
- Talking on a cell phone
- Speaking to passengers
- Adjusting a GPS or music controls
- Eating while driving
- Not paying attention to the road, being lost in thought.
Missouri Distracted Driving Statistics
- Drivers who look at their phones while driving are three times more likely to be involved in an accident than those who do not.
- Distracted driving was reportedly blamed for 21,058 collisions in Missouri in 2017.
- This number outranks both drunk driving (5,321) and speed-related incidents (19,535) in this state.
- The Missouri Department of Transportation estimates that many distracted driving incidents go unreported, estimating that up to 80% of all accidents in the state are caused by some kind of diversion.
Distracted Driving Laws in Missouri
Unfortunately, there are few regulations in Missouri to discourage distracted driving. In Fact, Missouri is one of the few states that don’t have state-wide distracted driving laws that apply to all drivers. The state only prohibits drivers under the age of 21 from text messaging and commercial drivers from texting or using handheld cell phones. Drivers over the age of 21 are free to text, and cellphone use is still popular and legal in Missouri. Additionally, the distracted driver restrictions don’t apply to law enforcement, fire department officials, and ambulance personnel performing official duties.
Missouri’s distracted driving rule, on the other hand, has numerous exceptions that extend to both underage and commercial drivers. These drivers are allowed to use electronic devices if they meet the following criteria:
- They’re lawfully stopped or parked
- They’re reporting illegal activity
- They’re requesting medical or other emergency help
- The driver is preventing injury to another person or property
- They’re using a factory-installed or aftermarket GPS
- They’re using the system to relay information between a transit or for-hire operator and the dispatch center, as long as the device is permanently attached to the car.
Although Missouri’s cell phone laws aren’t as stringent as those in other states, some drivers face penalties for texting while driving.Distracted driving is a moving offense that is considered an infraction. For those under the age of 21, a conviction would usually result in a $200 fine and points on their license.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
You can’t drive safely unless you’re fully focused on the task at hand. Any activity that you do when not driving is a possible distraction and raises the chances of crashing. Even legal distractions (like eating or changing the radio) will increase the chances of getting in an accident or driving erratically, so it’s best to avoid them wherever possible.
Many studies have shown that driving while using a mobile phone is just as risky as driving while inebriated. At 35 mph, even a two-second glance at your phone means you’ve already driven over 100 feet without looking.
If you get into an accident while texting, you can be held liable for the damages caused to the other party. The fines alone aren’t worth it, let alone the more serious repercussions for you and other drivers. Let’s just get to our destination safely and leave the texting until later.
How to Avoid Distracted Driving
Almost everybody is guilty of distracted driving in some way. April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which is a great time to refocus and accept responsibility for the decisions we make while driving. It is up to you to lead the charge against distracted driving. Make the decision to drive without using your phone today. Here are some excellent suggestions to assist you in driving more safely:
- Use your cell phone for emergencies only.
- If you feel drowsy, pull off the road.
- Limit the number of passengers and level of activity inside the car.
- Avoid eating while driving.
- Do your multi-tasking outside the car, before or after driving.
- Take your time driving to keep yourself and your passengers safe on the road.
Have You Been Seriously Injured By A Distracted Driver?
If you or a loved one has been involved in a distracted driving accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s important to protect your rights. We understand how terrifying it can be to be involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver. Our lawyers at The Goss Law Firm will assist you in determining the appropriate course of action during this trying time. To schedule a no-obligation legal consultation, call our office at 816-839-6452 today.