Smartphones have transformed modern life, with people now using them to check social media, talk to their friends, send text messages, read emails, browse the internet, and so much more. When people engage in these types of activities while they are driving, they endanger themselves and others. Understanding the dangers of using a cell phone while driving and avoiding smartphones while you are behind the wheel can help to minimize your risk of an accident. The experienced legal team at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave has helped many victims of distracted drivers recover compensation for their losses.
The Dangers of Using a Cell Phone While Driving
The statistics about using a cell phone while driving are sobering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1,000 people in the U.S. are injured and nine are killed every day in accidents that are caused by drivers who are distracted by their cell phones. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 3,450 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2016 alone. Despite this, people continue to use their cell phones while they drive.
Distracted Driving in Missouri
Like other states, Missouri has a distracted driving statute. However, it is one of the most permissive states in the nation in regards to the use of cell phones while driving. According to Vox Magazine, Missouri is one of three states that does not have a blanket ban on texting while driving for all drivers. Instead, the state only bans drivers who are younger than age 21 from texting while driving despite the dangers of using a cell phone while driving.
In February 2018, Missouri Senator Dave Schatz and Missouri Representative Bill Reiboldt sponsored Missouri Senate Bill 1050. This bill would amend the distracted driving law to expand the ban on texting while driving to all drivers regardless of their ages. While the bill passed the Senate on a vote of 28 to 3 and was sent to the Missouri House of Representatives, the House adjourned sine die on the bill in May 2018, which means that the bill has not been calendared for any further action.
Why Using a Cell Phone While Driving Is Dangerous
When you drive, engaging in any activity that takes your attention away from the road can be dangerous to you and to others around you on the roadways. The CDC reports that there are three types of distraction that can increase the risk of accidents:
- Manual distractions
- Visual distractions
- Cognitive distractions
An activity is manually distracting if it forces you to take your hands off of the wheel to perform it. For example, smoking a cigarette or reaching to adjust your stereo are manually distracting activities. An activity is visually distracting if it forces you to take your eyes off of the road. This might include looking at a passenger while you are talking to them or being distracted by billboards along the side of the road. Finally, an activity is cognitively distracting if it takes your attention away from the road. All distracting activities make it difficult for a driver to respond quickly in the case of an emergency, such as slowed traffic.
Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction simultaneously. During the time it takes you to read and respond to a text message, the CDC reports that your vehicle will travel more than the length of a football field while your eyes, hands, and attention are focused away from the road. This can cause you to drift into other lanes, rear-end vehicles in front of you, or run off of the road.
What to Do to Minimize Your Risk of Distracted Driving Accidents
You should not use your cell phone to do anything while you drive, including talking on the phone, sending or reading text messages, checking maps, surfing the internet, or looking at your social media pages. It is a good idea to turn your phone off and put it out of your sight while you drive. If you need to make a phone call, you should pull off of the road so that you can do so safely. Parents should talk to their teens about the dangers of distracted driving and place firm rules on cell phone use while their teens are behind the wheel.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
While you can reduce your risk of causing a distracted driving accident, you may be unable to prevent other people from colliding with you while they are using their cell phones. If you are involved in an accident that was caused by someone who was using a cell phone, you may want to talk to an attorney.
Despite the laws against using cell phones while driving, many people still talk on the phone while they drive. If you were injured in an accident that was caused by a distracted driver, you may have legal rights. It is important for you to talk to an knowledgeable personal injury lawyer about your potential claim. Call the experienced legal team at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave at 417-322-2222 or contact us online for a free evaluation of your case.