Archive for December, 2012

Missouri Imposes Limited Cell Phone Restrictions on Drivers despite Dangers

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

While few Missouri drivers would advocate eliminating DUI laws, Missouri has one of the most permissive policies in the U.S. when it comes to the dangerous conduct of distracted driving.  It was at about this time last year that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that Congress enact a national ban on all use of electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle.  Despite this proposal, Missouri law imposes no limits on cell phone use by adult drivers and only limited restrictions on drivers under the age of 21.

Missouri distracted driving laws restrict commercial drivers, but a prohibition on texting by underage drivers behind the wheel constitutes the only limits on cell phone use by non-commercial drivers.  Nonetheless, talking and texting while driving may pose a greater risk to those on the streets and highways of Missouri than intoxicated drivers.  According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah, drivers who talk on cell phones while operating a motor vehicle are 5.36 times more likely to be involved in a collision than drivers who are not distracted.  This is approximately the same increased probability that a drunken driver will be involved in a collision.  This study along with another study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah found that so-called “hands free” driving is no safer than handheld cell phone use.

Texting drivers pose an even more significant risk of causing a distracted driving accident when traveling the roads of Missouri.  Almost a third of all drivers admit to sending, reading or composing texts while driving, and almost one in five drivers admit to engaging in this unsafe practice on a regular basis in a national Health Day poll.  These distracted drivers cause an enormous toll in human life and life-altering injuries.  Simulations involving drivers texting while operating a motor vehicle reveal that drivers frequently travel the distance of a football field in the average five second interval used to respond to a text message.

While data on the specific number of injuries and fatalities associated with text messaging and driving is unclear, federal safety agencies estimate that 6,000 people per year die because of distracted drivers while another 500,000 suffer injuries.  While these numbers may seem alarming, they are growing as portable communications devices like mobile phones, iPads, Kindles, tablet computers and other similar gadgets become more affordable.

Drivers who are distracted by mobile phones can cause traffic collisions in a wide range of ways, such as:

  • Running a stop sign or red light
  • Failing to notice stopped traffic
  • Drifting out of the driver’s lane of traffic
  • Non-compliance with right of way rules
  • Lack of recognition of potential road hazards or obstructions

While this is not a comprehensive list of driving errors committed by motorists dividing their attention between cell phones and driving, the list contains some of the most common causes of serious car accidents in Missouri.  If you or someone you love is injured or a family member dies in a collision caused by a distracted driver, our experienced Kansas distracted driving accident lawyers are committed to holding irresponsible drivers accountable for the injuries they cause.  Our legal team offers a free consultation to evaluate personal injury legal claims so call us today to learn how we can help.

Does Missouri’s Mandatory Motorcycle Helmet Law Really Make a Difference?

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Collisions involving all forms of motor vehicles can result in fatal injuries of vehicle occupants, but motorcycle accidents caused by negligent drivers pose a much more significant risk of causing wrongful death.  Motorcycles offer limited handling because they are not as stable and provide no protection to motorcycle enthusiasts when collisions occur.  When other types of vehicles like cars, trucks and SUVs are involved in motor vehicle crashes, vehicle ejections constitute one of the most dangerous risks to vehicle occupants because the injury victim has no protection from impact.  When a motorcycle crash occurs on Missouri roadways, every crash essentially involves a vehicle ejection.

The statistical data regarding the fatality rate for motorcycle operators and passengers in collisions is sobering.  While the number of deaths of those involved in collisions involving passenger vehicles has declined in recent years, the motorcycle accident fatality rate continues to climb.  During a recent seven year period, the fatality rate for those involved in motorcycle crashes increased an alarming 55 percent according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The most prudent motorcyclist may be victimized by negligent drivers because there are limited evasive actions that may be safely employed by a rider to avoid a deadly motorcycle accident.  Given the inherent limitations of motorcycle enthusiasts to react to driving errors made by motorists in passenger vehicles, the value of a motorcycle helmet that meets Department of Transportation (DOT) minimum standards can hardly be overstated.  Many Missouri motorcyclists object to the state helmet law that requires universal use by all riders, but it is well-established that motorcycle helmet use is the single most important factor in preventing a wrongful death in motorcycle accidents.

The empirical evidence supporting the benefit of universal helmet laws is persuasive.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study and found that only 12 percent of those who died in motorcycle accidents were not wearing helmets in universal helmet law jurisdictions.  By way of contrast, 64 percent of fatal accidents involved riders without helmets in jurisdictions where only certain riders were required to wear helmets.  Almost 80 percent of motorcycle accident fatalities involved riders without helmets in states with no motorcycle helmet law.  Further, the NHTSA indicates that motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of a motorcycle accident fatality by 37 percent.

There have been consistent efforts to overturn the universal helmet law in Missouri, including one as recent as mid-2012.  Although these efforts may eventually be successful, we urge riders to seriously consider the danger posed by drunk, distracted and otherwise negligent drivers.  If your loved one dies in a Missouri motorcycle accident, our experienced wrongful death attorneys are committed to representing the interest of those who have been silenced by the negligence of others.  We understand the hardships that surviving family member endure and seek the financial compensation they need following the loss of a family breadwinner.  We offer a free initial consultation so we urge you to call us today to discuss your case.