Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distracted driving causes an average of eight fatalities on United States highways every day.
Many states have laws that prohibit certain types of distracted driving, especially texting behind the wheel. While texting is considered the most dangerous form of distracted driving, it’s not the only one. Understanding what counts as distracted driving is the first step towards accident prevention.
Were you hurt in a St. Louis distracted driving accident? You could be entitled to collect compensation to cover the cost of medical expenses, lost income, vehicle repairs, pain and suffering, and more. Talk to an experienced Missouri car accident attorney at Sumner Law Group today. We stand up for the rights of those injured in our community. You can count on us to demand fair compensation for you.
Call or contact us for a free consultation today.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving happens whenever a driver focuses on a task other than driving. The CDC divides distracted driving into three main categories. These include:
- Visual: A visual distraction is anything that causes when a driver to take their eyes off the road. This could happen when a driver turns around to talk to a passenger, looks at a billboard, or looks down to read a text message.
- Manual: A manual distraction requires a driver to take one or both hands off the wheel. Reaching for an item in the car, programming a GPS device, or picking up a drink are all examples of manual distractions.
- Cognitive: These types of distractions take a driver’s concentration off the road. Daydreaming, talking to passengers, road rage, and driving while intoxicated is considered cognitive distractions.
Beware of the triple threat: Texting while driving combines all three types of distracted driving. When a driver texts, they reach for their phone (manual distraction), take their eyes off the road to read the message (visual distraction), and must process the message and compose a response (cognitive distraction).
Most Common Examples of Distracted Driving
Distractions can come from within the vehicle or outside it. Some of the most common types of distracted driving include:
- Cell phone use: Smartphone usage is one of Missouri’s most common types of distracted driving. Texting, talking on the phone, changing the music, or scrolling through a social media newsfeed increases the chances of an accident.
- Eating or drinking: Drivers who pick up fast food will often eat while driving, but these manual distractions can prevent drivers from responding effectively in an emergency.
- Talking to passengers: It’s easy to get lost in conversation with friends or while attending to a child in the back seat. Talking to others can make it difficult for some drivers to focus fully on the task of driving.
- Personal grooming: Combing hair, shaving, applying makeup, and other types of personal grooming often happen when people rush to get to work or another destination.
- Reading: Whether it’s reading a text message or using a phone to scan a news article, many drivers do not recognize the risks of reading while driving.
- Watching videos: Using a phone or other watch videos while driving can be just as absorbing as texting while driving. If a driver turns their attention away from the road for even a split second, accidents can occur.
- Pets: Some drivers hold their pets in their laps while driving. It may be cute, but allowing a pet to climb in the driver’s seat interferes with the driver’s ability to control the car and puts everyone in harm’s way.
- Adjusting the radio or GPS: Similar to using handheld devices, fiddling with the radio or a navigation device can divert a motorist’s attention off the critical task of driving.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving Crashes
There are a variety of ways to reduce the likelihood of a distracted driving crash. Missouri law currently does not prohibit texting while driving unless a driver is under 21. But there are other things that drivers can do to keep themselves from getting distracted while behind the wheel.
- Never multitask. Drivers should focus exclusively on driving. Trying to do multiple activities at once can easily lead to an accident. Pullover to a safe location before talking on the phone or eating a meal.
- Avoid complex tasks. Certain activities may seem safe but end up being distractions. For example, using a voice-activated or hands-free system can cause a driver’s mind to wander. Although it’s a smarter option than texting, drivers must remain vigilant when using hands-free systems.
- Stay organized. Make sure that items are secured safely before driving. This can prevent drivers from taking their hands off the wheel to retrieve loose or fallen objects in the car.
- Be prepared. Make sure that any GPS systems are pre-set and that all entertainment systems are ready to go before hitting the road.
- Keep your eyes on the road. Drivers should check their mirrors roughly every five to eight seconds but should otherwise keep their eyes on the road ahead. Getting distracted by billboards, nearby crashes, or construction projects can result in distracted driving accidents.
Distracted Driving Statistics in Missouri
According to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, distracted driving claimed the lives of 72 people in the state in a recent year. Over five years, 407 fatalities were the result of distracted driving.
Additional data from the Missouri State Highway Patrol Statistical Analysis Center reported 1,192 distracted driving accidents in a single year. Of those crashes, nine people died and 675 were injured. The top cause of both fatal and injury crashes was using a handheld device.
The second-leading cause of distracted driving accidents in the Show-Me State was talking to passengers, followed by adjusting stereo/video equipment, eating and drinking, and using devices for texting, emailing, and Web browsing. External distractions accounted for two fatal crashes and 921 personal injury collisions.
FAQs About Texting and Driving in Missouri
If a distracted driver hits you, you likely have questions about your rights and legal options. Read on for answers to some frequently asked questions about texting and driving in Missouri. For personalized legal advice, contact Sumner Law Group for a no-cost consultation.
How Do I Prove the Other Driver Was Texting?
You will need to collect proof to show that a driver was texting at the time of the accident. Evidence that could help your case include:
- The police accident report
- Cell phone records
- Photo, video, and dashcam footage from the accident scene
- Witness statements from people who observed the driver texting before the crash
- The driver’s own admission of fault
Certain types of critical evidence in a texting while driving accident case, such as cell phone records, are not easy for private individuals to access. However, an attorney can subpoena those records to use in your claim for compensation.
How Do I Get Compensated by a Distracted Driver?
If you were injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, your first step towards compensation will most likely be to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. Compensation can include money for:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Vehicle and property damage
- Pain and suffering
Keep in mind that insurance companies will make every effort to minimize your car accident settlement. Adjusters are trained in tactics meant to undermine your claim. One of the most common strategies is to try and push the blame for the accident onto you. It’s wise to work with an experienced car accident attorney from Sumner Law Group to protect you from unfair claims of the fault and demand the full and fair compensation you deserve.
What is “Electronic” Distracted Driving?
Electronic distracted driving simply refers to the use of electronic devices while driving. In Missouri, cell phone and handheld device usage cause more distracted driving accidents than any other single type of distraction. Even though using a handheld device is not illegal, drivers can still be held liable if their actions cause a distracted driving crash that injures someone else.
Texting while driving is illegal for commercial drivers and drivers 21 and younger in Missouri.
Contact Our Experienced St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer Today
At Sumner Law Group, our St. Louis car accident attorneys are committed to helping distracted driving accident victims seek the fair compensation they deserve. If you were hurt in an accident caused by a distracted driver, call or contact us today for a free consultation. There’s no obligation.