After failing to win legislative support for a texting ban for all drivers, a group is taking their case directly to the people. The group, Decide to Drive, is going to Missouri schools to warn children against the dangers of distracted driving, including texting, eating, shaving, even reading a newspaper. A trauma surgeon, a Missouri state trooper, and a mother of a child killed by a distracted driver hope that by educating children before they begin driving, they can curb bad behavior behind the wheel before it begins. By extension, they hope the children will keep older siblings and parents in check if these children see distracted driving happening in their household.
Missouri is one of only a handful of states that does not have a ban on texting for all drivers. While the Missouri legislature passed a law in 2009 banning texting while driving for those under 21, critics of the bill argue that it is difficult to enforce, and that no driver of any age should be texting. Studies have shown that texting while driving is as dangerous (perhaps even more dangerous) than drunk driving. This sobering statistic should show everyone how important it is to keep your eyes focused on the road and wait until it’s safe before reading or sending that text.
In Missouri, there were 139,752 crashes on state roadways. According to estimates from the Missouri Highway Patrol, 30% of those crashes had distracted driving listed as a “possible contributing factor.” Another study recently undertaken by AAA put the total cost of all car crashes in the United States at $164.2 billion, or $1,051 per person. This is an astonishing amount of money. If this estimate is to be believed, it would save the United States $49 billion per year, and roughly $300 per person a year. In a time of tightening budgets both in state government and in the family home, ending distracted driving would be a simple way to save a little money.
To accomplish this, groups such a Decide to Drive and others focus on several factors. First is education. When people see studies about how dangerous distracted driving can be, there will be less likely to engage in the risky behavior. Second is through legislation. If people fear they will be ticketed for distracted driving, they will be compelled to alter their behavior. Third is through technology. Implementation of apps on smart phones, for instance, which can send an auto-reply while the car is in motion, allowing the driver to remain focused on the road while still letting the sender know the driver will respond when it is safe. In these ways, drivers will be allowed to keep their focus on the traffic in front of them instead of replying to a text message.
Zane T. Cagle and the Missouri traffic attorneys have seen the dangers of distracted driving first hand. Clients come to us after having been struck by an inattentive driver looking into their lap instead of looking at the road. Just a momentary lapse of attention can cause serious, permanent damage. We’ve seen many St. Louis personal injury cases where a driver has suffered paralysis, traumatic brain injuries, even wrongful death, from the negligence of other drivers more concerned with their phone than with their car. In this way, we applaud groups like Decide to Drive and others for bringing attention to this important issue. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a distracted driver, call the St. Louis personal injury attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm at 1.800.685.3302 today for a free consultation.