Posted by Amanda L. Hayden on 04/19/2022

It’s Time for Missouri to Tackle Distracted Driving

It’s Time for Missouri to Tackle Distracted Driving

Missouri and Montana are the only two states in the country where texting and driving is not banned for all drivers, and it doesn’t appear that this will change any time soon. State Legislators had a chance to ban the practice once and for all this May, but House Bill 241 remains stuck in committee until winter, when it can be refiled.  

And it should be refiled. According to data collated by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, cell phone-related activity has led to a 30% increase in crashes throughout the state, and 72 people were killed as a result of a distracted driving crash in Missouri in 2019. It is time for Missouri to do the right thing and ban texting and driving for good.

What are Missouri’s distracted driving laws?

As of this moment, Missouri only bans texting and driving for commercial truckers and drivers under the age of 21, meaning anyone aged 22 or older is free to text while driving. There is also no statewide ban for talking on a cellphone for drivers of any age except for commercial truck drivers, who cannot use a handheld cell phone.

What does distracted driving look like in St. Louis?

While texting and cell phone use are the most recognized forms of distracted driving, they are not the only ones. Distracted driving also includes:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Smoking
  • Fiddling with the radio or GPS
  • Turning around to address passengers or children in the front or back seats
  • “Rubbernecking” at accidents or anything happening on the road
  • Grooming, including putting on makeup or shaving
  • Reading
  • Streaming videos
  • Playing video games
  • Engaging in video chatting/video calls
  • Daydreaming

In short, distracted driving encompasses anything that diverts your attention from the road. It can be cognitive, visual, auditory, or manual. If it keeps you from keeping your eyes and ears on the road, your hands on the wheel, or your mind on driving, it’s a distraction.

What kinds of car crashes are caused by distracted driving?

Distracted driving can lead to single-vehicle crashes or involve multiple vehicles; it all depends on the circumstances. The most common car accidents cause by distracted driving include:

  • Rear end accidents. Distracted drivers often hit other drivers from behind because they do not notice when the car in front of them has slowed down or stopped.
  • T-bone collisions. A driver who does not notice a stop sign or red light can T-bone another car.
  • Sideswipe crashes. Distracted drivers may allow their vehicles to drift into other lanes, sideswiping the people driving other vehicles, or vehicles which are parked.
  • Multi-car wrecks. A distracted driver who drifts into another lane and overcorrects, or who hits a stopped car at an intersection, can turn a two-car crash into a multi-car pileup.
  • Pedestrianmotorcycle, and bicycle accidents. A driver is less likely to see a pedestrian, cyclist, or motorcycle rider if he or she is distracted. Because these individuals have less protection than people riding in cars or trucks, these accidents can be catastrophic.
  • Stationary object and building collisions. A distracted driver may be more likely to hit a curb, another car, or other stationary object. These drivers are also more likely to experience pedal confusion and hit the gas when they mean to hit the brake, which can lead to crashes into buildings (known as car incursions).
  • Fatal accidents. As we can see from the data, distracted drivers are deadly drivers. The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety found that “54% of the time, someone other than the distracted driver was killed” in a distracted driving crash.

Should you hire an injury attorney after a distracted driving accident in St. Louis?

Yes, you should. Even though there are very few penalties for distracted driving in Missouri, a negligent driver can still be held liable for your injuries in civil court. If you are injured in a crash, your attorney can help you secure compensation for your losses.

When you file a claim for damages after a wreck, you file that claim against the insurance company of the negligent driver. That insurance company does not want to pay out a claim, because claims reduce the profits of the company. Often, insurers will offer a very low settlement amount – if they offer anything at all – even if you are still undergoing medical treatment for your injuries. Because of how the laws work in Missouri, once you accept that settlement money, there is no going back; you cannot sue for additional damages.

This is where working with a St. Louis injury attorney can benefit you. Some of the steps we take on behalf of our clients include:

  • Subpoenaing phone records and “black box” data (when applicable or available) to show that the driver was using his or her phone at the time of the collision.
  • Checking social media and email time stamps to see if the driver was posting or emailing at the time of the crash.
  • Reviewing any video (surveillance or personal) that records the crash itself.
  • Working with accident reconstruction experts to show exactly how the cars must have been traveling when the collision occurred.
  • Reviewing and analyzing medical records and information to show the extend of your injuries, and how much additional care will be needed.
  • Working with financial planners to discuss the burden a serious injury will cause, including costs like revision surgeries (which aren’t always covered by insurance), home renovation (for adaptive technologies), and the costs of any additional day care.
  • Talking to local police who were on the scene and reviewing their notes as well as the accident report.
  • Talking with your employers about how the crash affected your ability to work and provide for yourself and your family.
  • Interviewing any witnesses to the crash to hear their stories and experiences.

On top of that, we also help you get a rental car while yours is in for repairs, and can assist if creditors won’t stop calling because you are unable to pay your bills while you are hurt.

At the Hayden Law Firm, we believe that all drivers owe one another a duty of care while on the road. We must be responsible drivers. When a distracted driver fails in that responsibility and causes you harm, we can help you seek justice.

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