Missouri proposes comprehensive texting and driving ban

Distracted driving is any activity that takes a person's attention away from the duty of driving. All distractions endanger the driver, passenger and other motorists on the road. While it is easy to blame this dangerous habit on text-obsessed teens, in truth, adults are just as guilty. As technology evolves and Americans become more reliant on smartphones and other devices, drivers are becoming more and more dangerous.

According to Distraction.gov, in 2011, 3,331 people lost their lives in  car accidents involving a distracted driver. This was an increase from the inattentive driving fatalities of 2010. Also, 387,000 more people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving an inattentive driving in this same year.

In some states, drivers caught texting and driving are cited for a driving violation. However, in Missouri, the act is illegal only for those under 21. Missouri is one of 11 states in the U.S. that permits some motorists to text and drive.

Last year, the Missouri Highway Patrol wrote 70 driving tickets for texting offenses. Yet, this number does not include the several adult motorists who engage in this activity on a regular basis. Fortunately, a new bill in the state's House of Representatives has been proposed this legislative session, which would make texting illegal for all drivers. The proposed bill would allow drivers to text only if they use hands-free, voice-recognition texting technology. If the bill is passed and signed, it will become active in August 2013.

While texting and driving seems to be one of the most popular inattentive driving practices, drivers should avoid other habits, including the following:

  • Using a cellphone or smartphone in any way (for example, checking Facebook)
  • Eating
  • Fixing hair, makeup or an outfit
  • Reading
  • Using a GPS navigation system

Motorists who engage in any of these activities while the car is in motion are taking safety risks.

Transmitting or receiving a text message takes a driver's attention from the road for approximately 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this is the equivalent length of an entire football field. Therefore, it only takes a few seconds to have vast, comprehensive damage.

With new laws in the making, motorists will hopefully begin to pay attention to the road instead of their cellphones. It seems outrageous to risk the lives of others all for a simple text message. If you have been injured by an inattentive or reckless driver, contact an experienced personal injury law attorney. You should not be the victim of a careless habit.