Driver Distraction Danger in Missouri Compounded by Holiday Traffic

Driver Distraction Danger in Missouri Compounded by Holiday Traffic

A record number of travelers are expected to take to the roads this holiday season, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. Throughout that time, there are plenty of sources of distraction: From bored kids in the backseat to last-minute plan changes on a cell phone. There are more errands to run, more long-distance trips, more people on the road in general.

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All of this has the potential to increase the risk of a crash. While distraction can be caused by virtually anything, electronic devices tend to get the most attention (with good reason; a person texting and driving is three times more likely to crash than someone who isn’t).

Missouri is one just six states that does not have a ban on the use of texting for drivers, though motorists under 21 are forbidden. Otherwise, there is no state law banning the use of cell phones while driving.

Our St. Louis accident lawyers know this has inevitably led to a higher number of crashes. The Missouri Department of Transportation reports a staggering 80 percent of crashes involve some form of distracted driving. And 50 percent of teen drivers in the state have admitted to texting while driving.

Although those under 21 who text and drive face a $200 fine, there is no penalty for older drivers who engage in this risky behavior.

The risk is heightened over the holidays. Just take a look at the recent review of three decades’ worth of U.S. Department of Transportation traffic fatality data by reporters at Forbes:

    • Thanksgiving Day was the No. 1 most dangerous day for traffic fatalities in the last 30 years, with an average number of 567 deaths annually, including 41 percent attributed to alcohol.
    • Christmas Day was ranked the fifth deadliest holiday of the year, with an average number of 414 fatalities each year since 1982, with 32 percent of those attributed to alcohol consumption.
    • New Year’s Day was the sixth-deadliest holiday of the year, with an average of 401 deaths each year since 1982, including 46 percent attributed to the consumption of alcohol by drivers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports while someone driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit of 0.08 percent will suffer a reaction time slowed by 12.5 percent, someone who is texting while driving will suffer a reaction time that is 37.4 percent slower than someone who is sober and paying attention.Although Missouri law has been slow to address this issue, some government agencies have been trying to tackle the problem. For example, the Missouri Insurance Department earlier this year launched the “Mo Eyes on the Road” campaign, a play off the state’s abbreviation and the slang teens often use for the word “more.”

MDOT reports 13 percent of all distraction-related fatalities between 2010 and 2012 were teenagers. The campaign addresses common forms of distraction, including texting, talking on the phone, passenger interaction, engagement with electronics and eating.

Additional Resources:
Missouri Sets Sights On Distracted Drivers, July 7, 2014, Associated Press

More Blog Entries:
Crocker v. Morales-Santana – Trucker Fatigue Case Weighed, Oct. 15, 2014, St. Louis Accident Lawyer Blog

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Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

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