Safety Group Ranks Missouri Fourth Worst in Traffic Safety Laws
Limited Ban on Texting and Driving
This recent study is not a surprise considering that Missouri is one of only three states in the US (including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) which has not passed legislation banning texting and driving. Various municipalities in the state have banned texting and driving in the last few years. Specifically, Manchester Mayor signed a ban in 2013 after recalling personal experience with drivers weaving all over the road while watching the driver texting.
We’ve all experienced a dangerous traffic situation only to realize the other driver was a distracted driver. Frequently, I talk with clients have been involved in crashes where the other driver apologized at the scene for being”on their phone” and failed to see them. Proving that someone was texting the very second they struck your car can be challenging. It is infuriating to injured people when the crash was caused by someone failing to pay attention or worse yet, texting and driving.
The low safety review stems from Missouri’s laws only containing four of the 16 laws the AHAS considers essential.
Currently, the only state ban on texting and driving applies to drivers under the age of 21 years of age. When the ban addressing drivers under 21 was passed, many questioned whether the ban was broad enough. Missouri Representative Allen Andrews said, “How ridiculous, do you suddenly get better at (not) being distracted when your 21? I think it’s absurd”
Secondary Seat Belt Policies
Additionally, the secondary seat belt laws are considered a hinderance to public safety according to experts. Missouri is one of only 15 states without a primary seat belt law that allows officers to stop drivers strictly for seatbelt violations. Seatbet data from the Missouri Federal Highway Administration shows that 81 percent of Missouri residents use their seat belt. Eighty-one percent is far below the national average. We know that wearing a seatbelt saves lives.
For some reason, there is still a number of people in Missouri that do not wear their seatbelts while riding in a vehicle. When you read crash reports as often as I do, you would be amazed at the number of crashes where folks just are not wearing their seatbelts. Seatbelts do not guarantee you will not be injured in a crash, but they keep you in the vehicle which is critical! Your chances of survival of a crash quickly diminish if you are ejected from a vehicle.
Missouri has not passed any legislation regarding open container laws either. Missouri Rep Andrews who represents northern Missouri said, “Data reveals states that have implemented open container laws are experiencing a reduction in fatal crashes”. Even metro areas such as Kansas City and St. Louis have not enacted open container laws.
Proper Infant Restraint
I do not think that any parent purposely fails to properly restrain their infant or toddler, but it happens far more than it should. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) maintains that all infants and toddlers need to sit in a rear-facing seat until they are at least two-years old, or until an infant meets the manufacturers height and weight restrictions. Missouri law currently only states that rear-facing seats are only required until an infant is a year old and 20 pounds. This is a large gap between safety standards set by AHAS and AAP.
We want our children restrained in the most safe way, correct? I mean, once you’ve won the fight as a parent of restraining your child in the car seat EVERYTIME you get in the car; then you can extend it until they are old enough and big enough to outgrow the car seat. We know it is a parental fight with your small children as they don’t usually want to be restrained. But, you only have to win that fight a few times to make it a habit that may save their life. From personal experience, I know great child car seats saved the lives of my two children a few years ago.
So, Missouri Legislators, Where are You?
While some representatives are hopeful they will be able to introduce some legislation to improve safety, it seems that the ban on texting and driving for all drivers should be an easier one. Banning texting and driving has been done in all state but three–it’s not exactly trailblazing legislation. Inattentive driving is the number one cause of motor vehicle crashes. Distracted driving is included in inattentive driving but is specific to operating your hand-held phone or electronic pad while driving. None of us should be texting or interacting on social media while we are driving. Driving is an important enough activity that you should have both hands on the wheel and your eyes on the roadway.
Driving Responsibly Regardless of the Law
Driving in a responsible way is a part to the greater social agreement we all have when we get on the roadway. I operate my car with the assumption that the other drivers I meet on the roadway will drive in a safe, responsible way ie: obey road signs, speed and pay attention. When you fail to follow the rules, you endanger yourself and others. Even if an officer doesn’t pull you over for failing to wear a seatbelt, you should wear it for the simple fact that is will in all probability save your life if you are in a crash.
Likewise, you absolutely should not be texting and driving. Depending on where you are, an officer may pull you over and ticket you if you are in a municipality where a ban has been passed.
Buckle Up and Put Your Phone Down
Year, Missouri has had over 70 traffic fatalities as reported by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. As well, local law enforcement have reported other traffic fatalities not included in the MSHP statistics. But, that is simply too many since February hasn’t even ended yet. Serious injuries however, easily double that number and that is the classification at the scene. Serious injury usually means life-threatening according to incident reports and does not include the multitudes of those who must seek weeks or months of medical treatment or may have a permanent injury.
If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle crash, you should take advantage of free consultations with expert car crash attorneys. People involved in crashes may not always need an attorney and we’re happy if that is the result. However, failing to call an attorney for advice can lead to quite a few mistakes that many people make. We like to help you avoid those mistakes.