In 2009, I wrote here approvingly several times about efforts to ban texting and driving in Missouri and Illinois. The issue is important to me as a St. Louis auto accident lawyer because distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents — and while texting is not the only distraction in the car, it’s a major and preventable one. Missouri had already passed a bill banning texting and driving for drivers under the age of 21, but efforts to extend the ban died in the state legislature. As the St. Joseph News-Press reported April 27, Missouri’s House has reversed its previous opposition, approving a proposal to require hands-free devices for drivers of all ages who want to text on the road.
The measure was part of a broader public safety bill that also addressed motorboating while intoxicated and parental accompaniment for minors using tanning beds. The texting and driving portion of the bill bans all drivers from using hand-held devices to send or read text messages as they drive. Drivers may still use hands-free voice recognition devices to use the phone as they drive. The law also contained exceptions for drivers reporting illegal activity, calling for emergency help and preventing injury to a person or property. The ban also has exceptions for drivers of emergency vehicles and drivers of vehicles for hire using devices permanently affixed to the vehicle. The article did not mention enforcement measures, but violators of the previous under-21 ban received tickets.
As a southern Illinois car crash attorney, I hope the state Senate will follow suit and pass this bill in the few days left in the legislative session. While the youngest drivers are, as a group, the most inexperienced, texting and driving isn’t safe for anyone. When drivers take their eyes off the road, it doesn’t take a scientist to conclude that they could miss important things. But as it happens, there is science to support the idea. One study from the Virginia Tech Traffic Institute found that when commercial truckers texted, they took their eyes off the road long enough for their two-ton trucks to travel the length of a football field. And a 2009 study from the University of Utah used a driving simulator to find that texting made a crash six times more likely. With lives at stake in so many car crashes, banning this widespread distraction only makes sense.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we represent families from St. Louis, southern Illinois and around Missouri that suffered a loss or a serious injury in a car crash that was no fault of the victim’s own. Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 3 to 34, and a leading cause of brain injuries and other devastating disabilities. When this kind of accident is caused by carelessness, law-breaking or intoxication, victims have the right to hold the negligent driver legally responsible for the results. Our Missouri car wreck lawyers help injured drivers get justice through the civil courts, as well as financial compensation for their injuries and losses. That includes compensation for all past and future medical bills, lost income and other financially burdens that are direct results of the crash.
If you or someone you love was hit by an at-fault driver and you’re considering legal action, you should call Carey, Danis & Lowe for help. To set up a free, confidential case evaluation, send us a message online or call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.