According to findings from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, cell phone ownership among adults has exceeded 90%. Up to 91% of adults now use cell phones according to the survey. Cell phones can thus be considered as the most widely adopted consumer technology in the world. Unfortunately, this rise in technology use can have dangerous side effects. Studies suggest that drivers who are often texting and driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident.
In Missouri, 1700 crashes were found to be cell-phone related in 2016. Fourteen people died and 816 people were injured due to the actions of cell-phone related distracted drivers. The Department of Transportation says that approximately 80% of accidents in Missouri are due to some form of distraction.
Texting and Driving Laws in Kansas City, MO
With respect to texting and driving, the law in Kansas City is as follows:
- It is illegal for all drivers to text while sitting behind the wheel. This is a primary law and it prohibits all drivers from sending, receiving or typing text messages while driving. This law is not just limited to text messages but also applies to instant messages and emails.
- Novice drivers (those who have a learner’s permit and intermediate license holders) are prohibited from using all forms of cell phone use while driving. This includes both hand-held and hands-free cell phone use.
- Licensed drivers (who are not considered novice) are permitted to talk on a handheld phone.
- Texting is considered a primary offense which means that if an officer sees you doing it, they do not need another reason to pull you over. They can stop you and ticket you for it.
These texting laws are not applicable on:
- any law enforcement officers or emergency service personnel who has to text within the course and scope of their duty;
- a person who is simply reading or entering a phone number or name on his device in order to either receive or make a call;
- a person who receives an emergency, traffic or weather alert;
- a person who receives a message which is related to the operation or navigation of their vehicle;
- a person who is in the process of reporting an illegal activity to the law enforcement authorities;
- a person who does it to prevent injury to a person or property.
The Gap in Texting Laws in Kansas City, MO
The biggest problem with cell phone usage and texting laws in Kansas City, MO is the fact that there is no statewide limit on cell phone usage by adult drivers. In fact, after the initial texting ban, there has been no further advancement in cell legislation. There is a definite need to modernize texting and cell phone legislation in Kansas. Cell phone use should be discouraged and prohibitions should be imposed on engaging with electronic devices altogether.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been advocating a complete ban on cell phone usage including talking and texting while driving even with hands-free-devices. While there are some states and cities that have already implemented this, Kansas City is still among the few that only bans texting while driving and has not yet prohibited drivers from talking on their phones
To date, laws in Missouri mainly focus on barring teens from using a cell phone while driving and while this is understandable since teen drivers are more prone to get into accidents when they are distracted, it is important to ban cell phone usage, hands-free or otherwise, for everyone. This ban should not be limited to novice and teen drivers.
It is important to understand that it is not necessary that only inexperienced drivers can be negligent if they use their cell phone. Cell phones are a distraction for everyone and it is one distraction that should be kept completely at bay while driving. Even moms, rushing their children, to and from school or people who are late for work can be distracted and can make a mistake if they continue to use their cell phones while driving. Distracting driving is a major problem and the laws should be designed to reduce the number of distractions for drivers.
Proposed Legislative Changes
There is no doubt that efforts have been made to improve cell phone usage laws in Missouri. Five bills were filed in 2017, several of which had been proposed earlier but without any success. House Bill 295 was proposed that wanted to completely outlaw the use of handheld devices while driving. The bill still allowed hands-free usage but the Bill did not get a hearing. Similarly, House Bill 312 proposed barring drivers from using handheld communication devices while allowing hands-free usage. The bill also proposed double fines in school and work zones but this bill also did not get a hearing. House Bill 378 proposed making texting illegal for all drivers unless using hands-free technology and House Bill 546 proposed barring texting by drivers of all ages. Both bills were not heard. Senate Bill 165 wanted to apply the ban on text messaging for all drivers but did not get a hearing.
Consult with a Kansas City Car Accident Attorney
Clearly, distracted driving continues to be an issue and adult drivers continue to use their cell phones while driving. If you have been in an accident that is a result of distracted driving and if you are unsure of how to proceed or how to file a claim for any injuries that you may have incurred, contact our lawyers at Krause & Kinsman today. Distracting driving is a major problem and more and more people are getting injured in accidents that are due to drivers who are negligent because they are too busy or too distracted by their cell phones. Call us now at 1 816-200-2900 and one of our associates will be happy to assist you. Our legal team has significant experience in dealing with similar car accident cases. Talk to us today and give us all the necessary information so we can initiate the process of filing for your claims and getting you the compensation you deserve.
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.