Do distracted driving laws stop drivers from texting?

file7071257952599.jpgDistracted driving car accidents in Kennett are deadly -- and preventable. According to the Chicago Tribune, many states are now taking an in-depth look at the causes, the consequences and the costs of distracted driving accidents.

One of the most dangerous distracting diving activities that a driver can engage in is texting. Texting behind the wheel takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, and your mind off the task of driving: in other words, it involves all three main forms of distraction (manual, visual and cognitive).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 20 percent of all deadly car accidents and more than 20 percent of all injury accidents involve some sort of driver distraction. Accidents caused by texting drivers are 100% preventable. No life is worth a text message.

At present, 39 states, Washington D.C. and Guam have passed laws that ban texting for all drivers of all ages. Unfortunately, Missouri is not one of those 39 states. Our only distracted driving law bans texting in young drivers under age 21.

However, some states with texting bans in effect have reported difficulty enforcing these laws. For example, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia State Troopers "have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone was texting at the wheel, and not merely dialing a number or talking. Most drivers simply stash their phone when a cop is in sight," law enforcement officials report. In Georgia, texting and driving is illegal, but talking on a cell phone is permissible.

And in Pennsylvania, where a similar law is in place, police report similar issues. "It's difficult to make that arrest due to the current law," Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano told the Times-Tribune. "It's difficult for an officer to discern whether they're texting or looking up numbers on their phone."

To combat this problem, the U.S. Department of Transportation is providing $550,000 in funding for pilot projects designed to improve the enforcement of texting and driving laws. Connecticut and Massachusetts will each receive $275,000 for "high-visibility anti-texting enforcement programs," which will involve training police spotters to be stationed on highway overpasses, keeping an eye on drivers from above.

"While it is relatively easier for law enforcement to determine illegal handheld cellphone use by observing the position of the phone at the driver's ear, the dangerous practice of texting while driving is often not as obvious," said David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator, in a press release. "These two new demonstration programs will help identify real-world protocols and practices to better detect if a person is texting while driving."

If you or a loved one has been involved in a distracted driving car accident in Dexter, New Madrid, Perryville or elsewhere in southeastern Missouri, contact the Perryville personal injury lawyers at Aaron Sachs & Associates, P.C. to schedule a free initial consultation. Call 1-888-777-AUTO, or visit our website.

Additional Resources:

Car Talk Finds the Economic Cost of Distracted Driving, by Colin Bird, Chicago Tribune

Study: Skill at texting doesn't reduce danger, by Brennan David, Columbia Daily Tribune

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