Texting and Driving
In a discussion of automotive accidents, the issue of distracted driving will most likely present itself. In fact, in research published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2020, it was noted that each day, around 8 people in the United States are killed in car crashes reported to involve a distracted driver. That’s more than 12,000 lives in a year!
Distracted driving, as the term suggests, is basically driving while doing something else—it consists of any act that detracts the driver’s attention from driving a vehicle. The NHTSA, in a different 2020 report, classified distracted driving into three categories:
Visual – Taking the eyes off the road
Manual – Taking the hands off the wheel
Cognitive – Taking the mind off driving
Let’s focus on the most common act of distracted driving, which falls under all three (visual, manual, and cognitive) categories: texting while driving.
Texting and Driving: An Overview
It cannot be denied that most of us have become so attached to our smartphones. With today’s technological advancements and the user’s need to incessantly stay connected, texting while driving has become extremely common today.
To a certain extent, it also has become uncontrollable—uncontrollable in the sense that even with the presence of prohibitory laws, excessive fines, and strict traffic officers and implementers of the law, texting while driving remains to be one of the most frequent causes of automotive accidents.
As mentioned above, texting while driving falls under the three categories of distracted driving. This, precisely, is the reason why texting while driving is more likely to cause an automotive accident than drunk driving, and research confirms this. When a person reads a text message and responds to it while behind the wheel, he takes his eyes off the road, busies his hands instead of just operating the vehicle, and distracts his mind instead of focusing on navigating and driving safely. It’s really just an accident waiting to happen.
“I’ve done it before, and look at me! I’m fine!” “It’s just a short message and just a few clicks. it’s going to be okay!” These are just some of the justifications of drivers who just can’t stop tinkering with their phones while behind the wheel. But if so many have become victims of auto accidents because of texting while driving, then it can surely happen to just about anyone.
Texting and Driving: The Statistics
To give you a clearer picture, here are some numbers related to the issue of distracted driving, particularly texting and cellphone usage, in the United States.
An estimated 28,000 people were injured in 2019 in crashes involving cell phone use or other cell phone-related activities.
Among all the distraction-affected causes of automotive accidents, 13% can be attributed to cell phone usage.
In terms of age group, it was among the drivers who reported using their cell phones while driving, it was the 25 to 34-year-old age group that obtained the highest percentage. They tallied 23%, while the 35 to 44-year-old age group came in second with 20%.
These numbers surely decreased in the more recent years, but such decrease cannot really be attributed to better, responsible driving among drivers in the country. Because of the circumstances brought about by the COVID-19, with the quarantines, lockdowns, temporary (and even permanent) business closures, and all, there was indeed limited movement in 2020 up to the present, and thus limited mishaps, too.
Texting and Driving: Our Laws
Different road safety laws were passed and are still strictly enforced today to curb auto accidents resulting from distracted driving, particularly texting while driving. Many of these pieces of legislation impose a texting ban on all drivers, and these are even primary enforcement laws. In other words, in these states, officers are allowed to pull over vehicles with drivers who are caught to be transgressing the law, and then issue a citation precisely for the violation.
The first state to pass a texting ban was Washington, whose state government started implementing the law in 2007. Currently, 48 states, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit text messaging for all drivers.
For the state of Missouri in particular, some say that we are one of the most lenient states in dealing with texting while driving. This is because in Missouri, the law that prohibits drivers from texting while behind the wheels applies only to drivers aged 21 years old and under. It is, in fact, one of only two states (the other is Montana) without a no-texting for all drivers rule in place. Note, though, that despite the leniency, the ban is a primary enforcement law. This being so if you are 21 and over and are driving in Kansas City or anywhere in Missouri, you better be careful not to be caught violating the ban; an enforcer is allowed by state law to stop and cite you.
Missouri laws on texting and driving may be a little too tolerant for some, but this is exactly why driving within the state should be done with extra caution. Kansas (and other Missouri cities) drivers might take advantage of the leniency, so it would definitely be prudent to show practice extra care yourself to avoid auto accidents.
However, despite the caution, in the unfortunate event that you get into an auto accident in Kansas City or its surrounding areas, Pospisil Swift is ready to assist. As can be gleaned from this discussion, we are a team of professionals proficient in the field of auto accidents and personal injury cases. With Pospisil Swift, you can count on our expertise, experience, and, most of all, concern for our clients.
Contact us by calling our office or by clicking the link below.