Fatal accidents caused by distracted drivers may be underreported
A new study by the National Safety Council suggests that the number of
fatal accidents caused by distracted drivers on cellphones may be much
higher than reported in Missouri and across the country. The council recently
reviewed 180 fatal
car accidents that occurred from 2009 to 2011 in which there was strong reason to believe
the driver was on a cellphone and found that only half were actually recorded
by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as involving cellphone use.
Texting and driving became a prominent issue in Kansas City nearly two years ago when a 16-year-old driver caused an accident that killed a 72-year-old woman. According to authorities, the young driver was looking at her cellphone and listening to loud music when the accident happened.
Missouri's efforts to crack d own on distracted driving
Missouri is one of only six states that legally allows drivers 21 years
of age and older to text while driving. There are three proposals currently
before legislators that would ban texting while driving and require all
cellular devices used while driving to be hands-free. None of the proposals
have hearings scheduled, and all three appear unlikely to be considered
before the legislature breaks, according to The Kansas City Star. According
to the Missouri Highway Patrol, 1,625 accidents occurred in the state
in 2012 as a result of drivers using cellphones while driving, and over
30 percent of those collisions resulted in injuries; 12 of the accidents
resulted in a fatality.
Opponents to the bills say that the number of wrecks don't justify new legislation. Representative Nick Marshall, for instance, claims that accident rates in Missouri have gone down over the past decade while texting has increased. He also asserts that he can't envision any way that police could realistically enforce a texting ban, according to The Kansas City Star.
Federal law may force the issue
Despite resistance to a texting ban from some state lawmakers, federal
regulations may leave the state with little choice. The legislature is
advancing legislation that would ban texting and using a hand-held cellphone
for anyone operating a commercial vehicle. Unlike the other proposed measures,
this legislation has been supported because it would prevent the state
from losing $30 million to $60 million in annual transportation funding.
Regardless of its legality, many drivers will likely continue to text. Even a few seconds of distraction can cause a crash that leads to devastating damage, and victims may suffer serious injury, disability or death.
If you have been injured in a crash caused by another driver's distraction or negligence, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine your right to compensation.