What Missouri Law Says About Using Technology While Driving?
In an age dominated by technology, staying connected is more tempting than ever, even when you’re behind the wheel. However, the convenience of your smartphone, GPS, or infotainment system can have dire consequences when prioritizing them over road safety.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents in Missouri, with nearly 200,000 distracted driving-related crashes recorded between 2012 and 2021, resulting in at least 801 fatalities.
Understanding Missouri’s technology usage laws for drivers can help prevent serious accidents and ensure you comply with regulations designed for your and other drivers’ safety.
When driving, keeping your eyes on the road is critical for your safety. However, with technology at your fingertips, it’s easy to slip into unsafe habits while trying to multitask, such as checking your phone or changing the radio station.
Using technology while driving is unsafe — not only because it is a visual distraction — but because it can also deflect your attention and take your hands off the wheel. These distractions pose a threat in the following ways:
- Visual distraction: Glancing at your phone or an in-car screen diverts your attention from the road, increasing the risk of accidents. On average, taking your eyes off the road for just five seconds at 55 mph is like driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
- Cognitive distraction: Phone calls, texting, or other technology-related activities can mentally distract you from driving. This mental distraction impairs your ability to react quickly to changing road conditions.
- Manual distraction: Physically handling your phone or other gadgets while driving takes at least one hand off the wheel, making it difficult to control the vehicle. Even a momentary lapse in control can lead to accidents.
Distracted driving statistics are alarming. In 2022, 84 people were killed in Missouri in distracted driving crashes, with 86% of distracted drivers in fatal crashes being older than 21. Over half of those killed were someone other than the distracted driver.
You may feel tempted to use technology while driving, but avoiding these common distractions can reduce the risk of accidents:
Smartphones are one of the most widespread and dangerous distractions for drivers. In 2022, handheld communication devices were responsible for 1,732 crashes, resulting in 733 injuries and 12 fatalities in Missouri.
Emailing or texting on communication devices also contributed to one fatal crash, 104 injuries, and 246 crashes. Engaging in texting, calling, or using apps while driving takes your focus away from the road, increasing the risk of accidents.
- GPS Devices
While GPS navigation is a valuable tool, it’s essential to use it responsibly. In 2022, there were 402 accidents involving navigation devices, resulting in injuries to 175 people in Missouri.
Rather than adjusting your route or settings while driving, program your GPS before you begin your journey. Alternatively, delegate navigation tasks to a passenger to ensure your focus remains on driving safely.
- Infotainment Systems
Modern vehicles feature touchscreen infotainment systems designed to enhance the driving experience. However, adjusting these systems while driving can lead to distraction. Mishandling stereo, audio, and video equipment contributed to 472 collisions, resulting in 2 fatalities and 192 injuries in Missouri in 2022.
Avoid adjusting settings, browsing apps, or changing music while driving. Prepare your infotainment system settings before hitting the road, or let a passenger manage it.
- In-Car Touchscreens
Modern vehicles include in-car touchscreens for functions like climate control, radio, and navigation. However, adjusting these settings while driving can lead to accidents.
Stats show 229 crashes, 1 fatality, and 74 injuries resulted from a person adjusting vehicle controls, emphasizing the need for responsible use. Ensure your preferences are set before driving; if necessary, pull over safely to make adjustments.
- Smartwatches and Wearable Devices
While smartwatches and wearable devices provide convenience, they can also present dangers when used behind the wheel. In 2022, hands-free devices contributed to 106 crashes, resulting in 53 injuries in Missouri.
Engaging with notifications, making calls, or interacting with these devices diverts your attention, much like smartphones. Keep distractions out of reach while driving or use voice commands if your device supports them to minimize distractions.
- Communication devices: Under this law, drivers are prohibited from physically holding or supporting an electronic communication device with any part of their body while operating a vehicle.
- Texting and video: The law makes it illegal to manually write, type, send, or read text-based messages, such as emails, texts, or instant messages. Also prohibited is recording, sending, posting, or broadcasting videos, including video calls and social media posts, while driving are also prohibited.
- Watching videos: The law restricts drivers from watching videos or movies while operating a vehicle. It also prohibits manual data retrieval, scrolling, or searching for online content.
The law permits using phones for navigation and phone calls through hands-free technology, using voice-to-text features or hands-free functions.
Using technology while driving can have devastating consequences. If you or someone you care about has suffered a car accident caused by distracted driving, it’s essential to take action.
Our skilled car accident attorneys at Cofman Townsley can provide legal guidance after a collision involving a distracted driver. We can fight for your right to seek compensation by investigating your case and collecting evidence to show that other drivers illegally used technology when operating their vehicle.
Contact us today for a free consultation – we can help you get started on your claim and recover damages for your injuries.