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Put The Phone Down: April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

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Distracted Driving: Sobering Statistics

While we all understand that we shouldn't text and drive, it is only when you see the statistics that the true extent of this epidemic becomes clear. According to the National Safety Council, 23 percent of car crashes are caused by so-called distracted drivers, and according to the latest federal data, more than 3,328 people were killed and approximately 421,000 people were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers nationwide in 2012. Teenagers, parents, seniors, children; the thousands of lives destroyed every year by distracted driving make this a public health crisis that requires immediate, coordinated, focused action.

Missouri Part of National U Drive. U Text. U Pay. Campaign

That's why Missouri is joining almost 40 other states and the National Highway Safety Administration in the nation's first coordinated national distracted driving enforcement campaign: U Drive. U Text. U Pay. During April, which is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Missouri will do a distracted driving social media push, sharing the message with more than 20,000 followers on Facebook, and almost 2,000 on Twitter. In addition, the state is coupling the distracted driving message in press and law enforcement notifications for a special occupant protection enforcement day on April 14.

Missouri Distracted Driving Laws

Like most states, Missouri has implemented laws that seek to curb driver distractions. Unfortunately, Missouri's laws against distracted driving are minimal: there is no ban on hand-held devices while driving (except for commercial vehicles) and a ban against texting and driving only applies to drivers under 21 and commercial vehicles. Needless to say, this has done little to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents.

"The Distracted Brain"

Although texting is the biggest culprit when it comes to driver distractions, simply talking on a cell phone while operating a vehicle is inherently risky. The National Safety Council warns that even hands-free devices make drivers four times as likely to crash.

Although driving is something most of us seem to do on autopilot, driving a vehicle is actually a complicated task that requires a tremendous amount of concentration and motor skill. Research from the National Safety Council shows that drivers who hold cell phone conversations while driving miss half of the information in their environment. When we talk and drive, the distraction impacts three layers of driving.

  • Visual. We miss exits, fail to see red lights, and miss out on important details in our visual fields.
  • Manual. Even hands-free devices require us to take our hands off the wheel. Fiddling with phone buttons, wires, and power sources compromises our ability to stay in control of the vehicle. Reaction times are slower, leading to more accidents.
  • Cognitive. When our brains are inside a conversation, they are less likely to be focused on the task of driving.

Helping Victims of Distracted Drivers

Distracted drivers who cause accidents are liable for the injuries and property damage they cause. At the law offices of Brad Bradshaw, M.D., J.D., L.C., we have seen first-hand the tragic injuries and losses caused by distracted driving and urge all drivers to put down the phone when behind the wheel. If you have been involved in an accident involving a distracted driver, please give us a call toll free at 888-775-0000 for a free consultation to discuss how we may be able to help you.

This article has been prepared by Brad Bradshaw, M.D., J.D., L.C. for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.