Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on January 17th, 2019,
by Zane Cagle

Missouri Lawmakers Consider Full Ban on Texting While Driving

Posted on January 17th, 2019 by Zane Cagle

Missouri is One of Only Three States that Currently Does Not Have the Ban—

It is past time to join the rest of the country and take a serious position on banning texting and driving.

Previously, we have written many articles on the dangers of texting and driving. Every one of us has had a near-crash on the roadways with some other driver that was blissfully unaware that they were weaving all over the road while texting on their phone  It’s infuriating when it happens because that driver is being careless right in front of you.  The consequences of driving distracted are catastrophic to both the distracted drivers and the innocent victims they hit. Tragic in the loss and tragic because it’s preventable.  We’ve had the technology a minimum of a decade and the dangerous distracted driving phenomenon has been around long enough that we ALL know that texting and driving is dangerous.

The Missouri General Assembly may bring up a bill to ban texting and driving across the state and join the other 47 states who have enacted this ban in the name of safer highways and streets. A serious ban would apply to all drivers regardless of age. Missouri, One of Three States Where Texting and Driving Still Legal and yes, we support the Missouri General Assembly’s possible stance on banning texting and driving for all drivers.

It is frustrating and scary to look over and see a driver who is drifting across lanes while they seem oblivious to all other drivers and vehicles.  Most everyone I know has experienced this scenario.  At first you think they are drunk, then you see the light of their phone on the dash or you see their head down clearly looking at their phone.  It is one thing to use hand-free talking options while driving, but it is clearly another issue when one uses SnapChat, Facebook or watches a movie while driving!  Using hands-free voice options on your phone do not require you to look at or fidget with your hand held device or phone.

A Legal Ban and Education = Possible Solutions

Clearly, safety organizations have been trying to educate all drivers about the devastation of texting and driving which includes interacting on social media sites, etc.  The National Safety Council reports that about 1.6 million crashes occur each year due to distracted driving.  There are nearly 330,000 injuries from these types of crashes and one out of every four crashes in the US are estimated as due to texting and driving. To be clear, distraction due to texting can also include taking photos of oneself to post to social media, and commenting on social media. Safety organizations have created all kinds of awareness campaigns such as #itcanwait, pledges and advocacy opportunities.

Much like the safety organizations that emphasize the impact of drunk driving, these organizations run public service announcements and educate young drivers on the dangers of distracted driving. In fact, distracted driving, specifically texting and driving result in approximately the same number of motor vehicle crashes. Unfortunately, these texting and driving

In addition to education, a texting ban as law can be a big deterrent for texting and driving for many drivers.  We know that tickets are a deterrent.  The consequences of those texting and driving crashes are something that I deal with frequently.  When a driver is on the phone and paying attention to a text or comment, they often blow through stop signs or don’t pay attention to yield signs.  Dangerously, pedestrians are at a great risks when drivers are distracted since so many drivers fail to see them anyway. Bicyclists and motorcyclists are also at a great risk for being hit by distracted drivers. Since so many drivers fail to see bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians, adding distracting driving to the mix just increases the likelihood that those drivers increasable don’t see other vehicles or objects if they are looking at their phones!

I Need My Phone for Directions!!

Yeah, me too!  Siri gets me everywhere I need to go when I drive out of town and the directions are audio. Once a driver puts in the address, there is no more need to consult the screen of the phone for the directions. I promise–Siri has rerouted me many, many times after I take a wrong turn.

I Have to Take Phone Calls!

Again, I hear that complaint.  I take calls from clients all day long and when I have a day of driving traveling to court or depositions, it is impossible to just “check out” on my phone. Thus, I enable the hands-free option in my car or I don’t take the call.  If there is something in your car besides driving that requires your eyes, then you must pull over.  If a text is the end-all of your existence and you absolutely have to get that text then you absolutely should pull over to read it.

Hard Habit to Break?

If texting and driving is a habit for you, then you probably need to take some drastic steps.  If you simply cannot resist answering a text, you might want to stash your phone out of reach to help you resist the temptation.  About six years ago, my wife got so angry with me that she simply took my phone when we were together and put it under her seat. She was ever so conscious of it because she always had little kids in the car!  She was really convincing. Not to mention, we have seen texting and driving crashes increase instead of decrease in my business.  Go visit a victim of a head-on motor vehicle crash in ICU due to someone texting and driving and it will incentivize you to get your act together.

It takes a driver an average of 4 seconds to check a text. It takes only four seconds to travel the length of a football field at 60 mph.  There is so, so much that can happen in the length of a football field.  Too many people are dying or being seriously injured in that 4 seconds!  If a driver is checking a text, they can just as easily slam into the back of a semi-truck in the length of that football field as well. Thus, the dangers are not jut to other motorists on the roadway, the texting and driving often has disastrous consequences for the text/driving offender.

Current Law

Currently, the ban only applies to drivers 21 years old and young. As well, commercial drivers are banned from texting and driving.  While law enforcement agents claim the ban can be tough to enforce, I dare say that every officer has had the same distracted driver near-crash experience as the rest of us.  The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported numbers where texting and driving citations and years across the state:  In 2017, there where 63 citations, in 2016, there were 76 citations and in 2015, there were 57 citations.

The actual goal of the ban would not be to generate revenue through fines, rather the ban would be a strong reminder that texting and driving is dangerous.  A ban that included the possibility of a fine would raise awareness and possibly help prevent just a few of these needless tragedies.

Distracted Driving and Inattentiveness are Most Common Causes of Crashes

Some may think I’m confusing the language. There is a difference between distracted driving and inattentiveness, however, both have the same consequences–motor vehicle crashes. If you are texting and driving, then you are being inattentive.  You may be inattentive and not texting and driving.  Inattentiveness simply means not paying attention and may include a number of behaviors such as looking  for things under one’s seat, eating, day dreaming, rubber necking to see other crashes, putting on make-up or trying to make eye contact with other passengers in conversation. There are so many other things that people try to do while they are driving!  WE must stop!  But the term distracted driving or texting and driving is pretty specific to an inattentive behavior.

Both distracted driving and inattentiveness result in motor vehicle crashes, sometimes fatal. It seems like such a waste of life because it is preventable.

Hey, at some point in the beginning of this tech age when we all started using cell phones and text features, we  have all texted while driving. But, just because we’ve done something, it doesn’t mean we necessarily ought to continue to do so!  Driving and texting has similar injury and fatal statistics as drunk driving.  It’s an infuriating phenomena because we know these tragic injuries and deaths are preventable.

If You’ve Been Injured in  a Motor Vehicle Crash

If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle crash, you may suspect the other driver was on the phone, but the real issue is how and where they hit you.  While they may have been texting and driving, ultimately, your primary concern was the driving behavior they committed that resulted in the crash. For instance, they may have been on their phone and never saw you and rear-ended you.  It doesn’t really matter why they didn’t see you—they didn’t and failed to keep a safe lookout.

Likewise, if someone is distracted and veers into your lane, they are failing to keep control of their vehicle and failing to stay in their lane. That applies no matter their excuse whether they were on their phone, adjusting their sound system, day dreaming, etc.  The point of adopting legislation to ban texting and driving is for awareness and the possibility of a fine to reduce the amount of actual people driving while distracted.

If you’ve been injured in a crash, you will need an attorney. Get a free consultation BEFORE you start talking to any auto insurance company. Know your rights as I will assure you they know theirs and they have a plan.

Call us toll free 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.391.5220