The number of adults in the U.S. who own smartphones – approximately 68 percent – has never been higher. While cell phones can make our lives easier, they have become an absolute nightmare for driving safety. Although cell phone usage can be a significant contributor or even the direct cause of an accident, many states, including Missouri do not strictly limit the use of cell phones while driving.
How Cell Phones Contribute to Reckless Driving Behaviors
Despite the fact that many people feel comfortable using their cell phone while driving, many Americans will readily admit they have engaged in risky driving because they were using their cell phone. This is particularly true for younger, inexperienced drivers. In fact, texting while driving is one of the leading causes of teen deaths in the U.S. There is even a lawsuit in progress against the mobile app Snapchat for encouraging reckless driving behaviors.
Here are some of the simple things you may be doing while driving and using a cell phone that could lead to accidents:
- Driving one-handed so you can use your phone.
- Taking your eyes off the road to grab your phone, check messages, send texts, or call a phone number.
- Becoming so engaged in the cell phone conversation you forget what you’re doing. Even with a hands-free device, talking on your phone, especially in an emotionally-charged conversation can lead to careless driving.
- Not being aware of your surroundings, hazards, or keeping a proper lookout because of cell phone usage (including a passenger’s cell phone).
There is no specific restriction on adults using their cell phone while driving in Missouri. However, Missouri does have laws for novice drivers (those under the age of 21), who are prohibited from texting while driving. In addition, commercial drivers (trucks, bus drivers, etc.) are not allowed to use handheld devices while driving.
If an employee of a company caused an accident while doing work-related tasks on the cell phone, including having a conversation or sending texts, the company could be held liable for the accident. Furthermore, parents of teenagers who cause accidents while on their cell phone could also be held liable in part for damages.
Using Cell Phones Safely While Driving
Even if cell phone usage is, technically, allowed while driving, it’s important that motorists exercise caution. If you are going to use your cell phone while driving, make sure to do the following:
- Do not talk on the phone while actively driving;
- Do not have emotional or complex conversations while driving;
- Use a hands free device, such as a Bluetooth earpiece, that allows you to keep both hands on the wheel and talk at the same time;
- If the call is an emergency, try to pull off the road;
- Refrain from sending text messages, IMs, or reading messages while driving;
- Buy a cell phone with features like voice activation and speed dialing;
- Practice driving in a safe area, such as an open parking lot, before using it on the road; and
- Only use your cell phone for emergency purposes.
Hit By a Distracted Driver?
If you’ve been in an accident caused by a driver who was using their cell phone, you should contact an auto insurance attorney to find out your options. Call Krause and Kinsman Law Firm to speak to experienced car accident attorneys in Kansas City, Missouri. We’ll fight hard for you!
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.