The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP), as part of its broad campaign to discourage distracted driving, has announced revisions to the system it has used for the past ten years to track auto accident circumstances. In addition to noting factors like the age of the drivers involved and the types of vehicles, the MSHP began tracking distraction factors as of January 1, 2012. These include the type of device and the type of activity allegedly causing distraction at the time of the accident. The MSHP expects to make the data collected available with its next annual traffic report in mid-2013.
According to the MSHP, Missouri drivers experienced 142,966 traffic crashes in 2011. Nearly seventy-five percent of the total only involved property damage, and only one-half of one percent of all crashes involved fatalities. Still, 786 people died in traffic accidents on Missouri roads last year, and 51,061 were injured. The MSHP states that “inattention,” which may include driving while texting or talking on a handheld mobile device, played a role in about 39,209 crashes during 2011. The new guidelines expand on the concept of “inattention” by breaking it down into different categories of distraction.
The MSHP includes six “causative factors” in its traffic crash statistics. These are factors that either cause or substantially contribute to a crash:
- Alcohol: when an investigating officer concludes that one or more people involved in the crash were under the influence of alcohol, and that the resulting impairment contributed to the crash;
- Speed: when an investigating officer concludes that the excessive speed of one or more drivers contributed to the crash;
- Younger driver: when one or more drivers are under the age of 21;
- Mature driver: when one or more drivers are 55 years old or older;
- Commercial vehicle: when a commercial vehicle is involved in a crash, such as a truck weighing 10,001 pounds or more, a cargo van, or a bus; and
- Motorcycle: when a motorcycle, not including mopeds or ATVs, is involved in a crash.
A spokesperson for the MSHP stated that they now also track multiple categories of distractions contributing to or causing traffic crashes. These may include eating or grooming, but particularly includes distractions caused by mobile electronic devices. The new guidelines reportedly have four categories for cell phone use, including talking, texting, and internet surfing. Missouri law currently bans texting while driving for all young drivers, meaning those 21 years of age or younger. It is not clear whether the new reporting guidelines will be used to assist in enforcement of the texting ban, or if they will simply aid in keeping traffic statistics.
Auto accident attorney Doug Horn is an advocate for safe driving in the greater Kansas City area. He represents the rights of people who have suffered injuries or lost loved ones due to the negligent or illegal conduct of others. Contact us today online or at (816) 795-7500 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
Missouri Traffic Crashes, 2012 Edition (2011 Statistics) (PDF file), Department of Public Safety, Missouri State Highway Patrol