Statistic are clear that distracted driving is dangerous. Any activity that takes your focus away from the road while driving is, by its very definition, distracted driving. This may be caused by talking on the phone, using a navigation system, texting, fiddling with the radio or even talking with another person inside your vehicle. The National Safety Council’s research has found that nine (9) Americans die every day in distracted driving crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that distracted driving was a factor in approximately ten (10%) percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes and eighteen (18%) percent of all crashes that cause injury. They also found in 2017 that 3,166 people died from crashes specifically caused by distracted driving – many of which were caused by cell phone use. In the same year, Missouri had 2,600 reported motor vehicle crashes involving cell phone use that led to bodily injury. This figure only includes instances where the drivers admitted to using their phones at the time of the accident. Therefore, the actual statistics for distracted driving from cell phone use is much higher than reported.
Cell Phone Use While Driving
Handheld use of a cell phone is one of the most visible sources of distracted driving. Handheld use can include texting on a cell phone while driving, which is a particularly dangerous and risky behavior. The average text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for about 5 seconds. When traveling at a rate of 55 miles per hour, this equates to driving without your eyes on the road for the length of a football field or 360 feet. That is a substantial distance to cover and is equivalent to driving while being blindfolded. Even traveling at 35 miles per hour, a two second look at your cell phone would equate to 100 feet of distance without looking at the road. The dangers of this behavior cannot be overstated or overlooked.
Missouri has banned the sending, reading or writing of text messages while driving, but only for those under 21 years of age. Younger drivers are more likely to text and drive, but they are not the only ones who are also at risk for engaging in this dangerous behavior. Studies show that texting makes vehicle accidents 23 times more likely to occur. Unfortunately, Missouri is one of three (3) remaining states that has not yet passed some sort of legislation that bans texting while driving outright. Missouri law also has absolutely no prohibition on handheld cell phone use for talking (even for young new drivers). The only solution for distracted driving is to completely eliminate the distraction but this is not likely to happen in the foreseeable future.
Receiving Compensation Due to Distracted Drivers
Despite the rather lax laws regarding cell phone use and driving in Missouri, if you are injured by a distracted driver who was using his or her cell phone at the time of the accident, it is still possible to bring an action against the person who caused you harm. Their actions are still negligent and, in some cases, may be found to be reckless. Just because it is not technically impermissible to operate your vehicle while talking on a hand-held cell phone or while reading a text message (if over 21 years old), does not mean that the driver acted safely or reasonably while doing so. It is still the vehicle operator’s responsibility to act reasonably and not put others in harm’s way. If you were the victim of a cell phone user’s negligent driving, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses, both past and future, your pain and suffering, your property damage and your past and future lost wages. Contact the attorneys at Griggs Injury Law to discuss your matter today.