The Missouri Department of Public Safety has made it a priority to discourage texting while driving. An officer of the Missouri State Highway Patrol commented that a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents is failure to pay attention. Drivers who are preoccupied with cell phone use, especially texting, cannot fully focus on the road.
Partners joining the MSHP in implementing the MDSP’s campaign against distracted driving include a top NASCAR team and one of Missouri’s biggest trucking companies.
Current Missouri law and statistics
At present, Missouri and 37 other states have some legislation in force to limit texting while driving. Missouri allows drivers over age 21 to send and receive texts while driving, though the MSHP is urging all drivers to act with safety in mind and avoid texting.
The toll from distracted driving is high. Distraction from cell phones was a factor in almost 1,800 accidents on Missouri roads in 2009, according to the MSHP. During the first six months of 2010, 791 cell-phone-related crashes occurred in Missouri, killing eight people and injuring 239.
Distracted driving statistics analyzed by the NHTSA
According to nationwide statistics assembled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,331 people died in accidents in 2011 where a driver was distracted. Besides the fatalities, 387,000 were injured that year.
In 2010, a distracted driver was involved in almost one in every five crashes that resulted in injury. Distracted driving is especially a concern for drivers under 20 years of age, the age group with the largest percentage of distracted drivers. Almost one in nine of these young drivers who were involved in fatal accidents were distracted when the accident occurred.
Facts about distraction from the NHTSA
Texting is a growing trend. The number of texts sent or received in the United States reached more than 196 billion in the month of June 2011, reports the NHTSA. That figure is almost 50 percent higher than the total for June 2009.
Of course, there are a number of other sources for driver distraction, such as talking with passengers, eating or drinking, fiddling with the radio or looking at maps. However, because texting involves so much attention, requiring visual, manual and cognitive activity on the part of the phone user, it is the most dangerous distraction.
While a driver is reading or sending a text message, the driver’s eyes are off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds – long enough for a car to travel the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour.
Putting others at risk
In more research results from the NHTSA, it has been found that a driver who chooses to text behind the wheel is 23 times as likely to get into an accident as a driver who is not distracted. Frighteningly, 40 percent of teenagers in the United States acknowledge riding in a vehicle while the driver was distracted by a cell phone.
When someone is hurt due to the negligent behavior of a distracted driver, it is important to get help in seeking compensation. A personal injury attorney can file a claim to recover the costs of medical treatment, lost wages and pain and suffering.