Distracted drivers are quickly becoming one of the most common culprits in a car accident in western Missouri, causing dozens of deaths and hundreds of personal injuries in St. Joseph and Kansas City every year. This is in large part because Missouri is one of the very few states in the U.S. that still has not made texting and driving illegal for everyone on the road.
The Problem of Texting and Driving
One of the most prominent and dangerous ways for a driver to be distracted while behind the wheel is by texting. Texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for extended periods of time, occupies their attention, and often takes one or both hands to operate the phone or type a message.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,477 people were killed and another 391,000 were hurt in car accidents that involved a distracted driver in 2015 alone.
Missouri Hasn’t Outlawed Texting While Driving
47 of the 50 states in the U.S. have banned texting while driving. In 43 of those 47, texting while driving is a primary offense, so police can pull someone over for texting even if they’ve done nothing else wrong. In the other four, texting while driving is a secondary offense, so police can issue a citation for it, but cannot make a traffic stop solely because the driver is using their phone.
Missouri, however, is one of only three states in the country to have yet to ban texting. Instead, Missouri’s law only bans texting when the driver is under the age of 21, punishable with a fine of up to $100. The lack of a ban on texting while driving for all drivers puts Missouri alongside only Arizona and Montana in the entirety of the United States.
Personal Freedom Versus Safety
In the debate about whether to allow drivers to text while behind the wheel, it often comes down to the issue of personal freedom, on the one hand, and the safety of others, on the other one.
As Americans, we highly value our freedom to do what we want, and are wary of any government attempt to infringe on this right. However, when something that we do puts others at such serious risk, like texting while driving, having a law to prohibit it can literally save lives. When all that it would take to save lives and prevent serious injuries is banning people from sending text messages until they reach their destination, it’s unconscionable that we still see innocent Missourians getting hurt by distracted drivers. The amount of personal freedom that we would have to sacrifice is tiny compared to the value of a human life.
St. Joseph and Kansas City Car Accident Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
As car accident and personal injury attorneys, the lawyers at the Smith Law Office strive to get accident victims the compensation that they deserve. However, even if successful, we cannot turn back to the clock to before the crash and prevent it from happening. Laws banning texting and driving, however, can be a huge deterrent, and can prevent those accidents from occurring.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a car accident in St. Joseph, Kansas City, or Springfield, call the Smith Law Office at (816) 875-9373 or contact us online.