Drivers and passengers alike feel unsafe when those operating a motor vehicle place their attention somewhere other than the road. Nearly 86% of people report feeling very unsafe when a driver reads or sends text messages behind the wheel. The consensus is that driving distractions put people at risk, yet most people make exceptions for themselves. The auto crash attorneys at Casey Devoti & Brockland have handled countless cases against distracted drivers in Missouri and Illinois — just because you haven’t been in an accident does not mean you’re being safe.
Missouri Distracted Driving Laws
Missouri is one of two states with zero distracted driving restrictions on adult motorists; Missouri now only restricts phone usage for motorists under the age of 18. However, that may soon change as Missouri lawmakers push for laws against distracted driving.
Matt Devoti, an auto crash attorney at Casey Devoti & Brockland, is a member of the Missouri Hands-Free Coalition. The Coalition is made up of public safety officials, educators, insurance industry representatives and attorneys who have written legislation for senators and representatives. Their goal is to get the bills against driving distractions to the floor of the General Assembly. Their work has resulted in several similar bills, such as HB 1487, HB 2229 and HB 2243.
As of April 2023, one bill is currently making its way through the General Assembly — namely, MO SBs 56 & 61 sponsored by Senator Jason Bean and Senator Greg Razor. The legislation creates the “Siddens Bening Hands-Free Law,” which prohibits several uses of electronic communication devices while operating motor vehicles while providing limited exceptions. The act also specifies penalties for violations — accounting for repeated offenders, work zone prohibitions and incidents resulting in property damage, injury or death.
Common Driving Distractions
The auto crash attorneys at Casey Devoti & Brockland have seen two primary causes of distracted driving.
On one hand, there are cognitive driving distractions — activities that take your attention and focus away from the primary task of driving a motor vehicle. These distracting tasks commonly present through your phone, including changing songs on streaming apps, getting directions on a GPS or using social media applications. Surprisingly, calling is just as, if not more, dangerous than texting. The National Safety Council reports that people talking on the phone fail to take in nearly 50% of their surroundings.
On the other hand, some distractions are physical — meaning anything that takes your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road. Physical distractions include eating, drinking, reaching for a bag or even talking to the passengers in your car. This category also includes quirky decisions such as shaving or painting your nails.
Avoiding Distractions on the Road
Our auto crash attorneys have seen the impact of driving distractions on families across Missouri and Illinois. We have represented clients injured because of distracted driving, including those injured when a motorist crossed the centerline while placing a call, another injured when she was hit from behind by someone reaching across his front seat and a third struck by a texting motorist.
The second you decide to divide your attention, your risk of injury or death goes up exponentially. As auto crash attorneys, we suggest that you:
- Turn off your phone.
- Place your phone where you cannot reach or hear it.
- Pull over or park if you need to do something.
- Maintain respect for everyone else on the road.
- If you know a loved one is behind the wheel, wait to text or call them.
The best decision is to set a positive example for kids and other motorists by keeping your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and mind on driving. In the event that you are involved in a car accident with a distracted driver, contact Casey Devoti & Brockland for a free consultation.