As a distracted driver accident lawyer who concentrates in car, truck, and motorcycle collisions that cause serious injury and traffic-related fatalities, a significant percentage of the cases I handle involve drivers who have caused accidents due to the use of a cell phone behind the wheel. These types of crashes are often violent and I believe a new law which bans drivers from using their cell phone to read, write, or transmit electronic messages would go a long way toward reducing Missouri traffic fatalities.
Presently, Missouri does have a law that prohibits drivers 21 and younger from texting while driving. Quite frankly, as a distracted driver accident lawyer, I have never understood the rationale of the law in place.
First, age has nothing to do with the dangers posed by a driver who is texting. In fact, as a distracted driver accident lawyer who has handled hundreds of distracted driving cases, I now believe that adults represent the largest segment of distracted drivers. In my opinion, young drivers have a much better appreciation of the dangers associated with using a cell phone behind the wheel. Part of the reason for this appreciation of the risk is that it is illegal for a driver under 21 to text. Further support for a law is found in traffic safety studies which show that the majority of drivers will modify their habits and behaviors to conform to traffic safety laws.
Secondly, the present law sends a message to adult drivers that texting while driving is a privilege of being an experienced driver. Given the present law, an impression is being made upon all drivers that while texting while driving is unsafe for young drivers who lack driving experience, as you get more accustomed to driving you are much better able to handle multi-tasks while driving. This type of impression is dangerous and leads to more adults willing to divert their eyes from the road.
Last year I testified before Missouri lawmakers in regards to legislation to extend the texting ban to all drivers. Similar to past proposed legislation to extend the anti-texting law, the 2016 legislation failed. This year I expect that there will be another legislative attempt to ban texting while driving. In this regard, I understand Missouri Senator Jill Schupp of Creve Coeur will be filing a Senate bill that is very similar to past failed legislation. I plan on joining forces with other Missouri driver safety advocates to help get a different result and join the 46 other states that completely ban texting while driving.
I am also hopeful that any other distracted driver accident lawyer from around the state will join me in advancing driver safety in Missouri by supporting legislation aimed at reducing the number of drivers who are texting or otherwise manipulating their cell phones. Not only would be taking steps to reducing roadway deaths in Missouri, but also contributing to an overall improvement in the driving culture.