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Increased Missouri traffic fatalities partially caused by distracted driving

For those of us frequently on the road in Missouri, statistics recently released by the Missouri State Highway Patrol are troubling. According to the report, the number of fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents in Missouri was higher in 2012 than the year prior.

In 2012, the highway patrol reported that 818 people died in traffic accidents in the state – representing an increase of over 30 fatalities from the 786 traffic deaths in 2011. According to the report, some of the primary causes of the fatal accidents were distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding. In addition, law enforcement officials noted that many fatalities could have been prevented had more individuals been wearing seatbelts at the time of the accidents.

Distracted driving laws in Missouri

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, distracted driving is the most common factor that leads to motor vehicle accidents in the state – leading to over 25 percent of all collisions in Missouri annually.

In 2011, distracted driving led to 153 fatalities in Missouri and over 10,000 personal injuries. Across the country, the number of people killed in distracted driving crashes rose in 2011 from the year prior – 3,331 Americans died in distracted driving accidents in 2011.

Consequently, many states – including Missouri – have taken steps to prevent this dangerous behavior. In Missouri, novice drivers are prohibited from texting while behind the wheel. A novice driver is defined as anyone who is 21 years old or under. In addition, Missouri drivers are required to “exercise the highest degree of care” while operating a motor vehicle.

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation Southwest District, motorists under the age of 21 who are found to be in violation of the texting ban are subject to a $200 fine.

Many states across the country have taken the texting ban one step further, prohibiting all motorists from texting while driving. Texting has been found to be an especially dangerous type of distracted driving, as it requires the driver simultaneously to look away from the road, remove a hand from the wheel and think about something other than driving. According to a Virginia Tech study, texting while behind the wheel increases the risk of an accident by 23 times.

While cellphone distraction is one of the types of driver distraction that receives the most attention, it is also important to note that drivers can be distracted by a number of different activities – from communicating with other passengers in the vehicle to eating or applying makeup.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a distracted driving collision, consulting with a skilled Missouri personal injury attorney will ensure your rights are protected.

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