Thousands of people are killed and injured each year in auto accidents that could have been prevented if the at-fault driver wasn’t distracted; and a leading cause of driver distraction is the use of cell phones.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), cell phone usage is a common distraction for motorists. Furthermore, the NHTSA says that distracted drivers cause 18 percent of all car accidents, killing 3,267 and injuring 416,000 in 2010. According to the NHTSA website, on average, a driver takes their eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds when sending a text, the equivalent of driving down the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour, blind-folded.
Alarmingly, the NHTSA also indicates that talking on a cell phone increases the risk of auto accidents by 4 times, and texting increases that risk by 23 times. Cell phone use of any kind, including the use of hands-free devices, causes a 37 percent reduction in brain activity related to driving.
In addition, a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that drivers who regularly use their cell phones while driving engage in other risky behaviors such as speeding (65 percent), driving while drowsy (44 percent), and sending e-mail or texts (53 percent). The survey also found that 69 percent of the licensed drivers surveyed reported that within the last month they had talked on a cell phone when driving even though 89 percent believe their safety is threatened when other drivers use cell phones. Furthermore, 95 percent of respondents disapproved of e-mailing and texting while driving, but 27 percent indicated that they had done so in the past month.
Currently, all cell phone use while driving is banned in 10 states and an additional 39 states restrict texting while driving, but Missouri state law remains lenient. The fact that Missouri state law currently does not prohibit any kind of cell phone use for drivers aged 22 or older means that Missouri drivers are at an even higher risk of being injured in an auto accident caused by distraction due to cell phone use. Though there are currently no legal repercussions for texting or calling while driving in Missouri unless the driver was 21 or under, cell phone use can still establish fault in an accident which can lead to financial recovery for victims.
Though insurance companies often like to settle claims quickly, it’s important that individuals injured in an auto accident contact an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney. Through the use of witness testimony, police reports, and cell phone records, auto accident attorneys can prove a driver was at fault and liable for personal injury or wrongful death and get victims the financial compensation they deserve.