Distracted driving in Missouri and across the nation puts drivers at risk every day. Nationwide, this form of reckless driving results in hundreds of thousands of accidents and thousands of deaths each year.
Missouri has relatively weak laws on the books to prevent distracted driving, but some lawmakers want to change that.
The current situation
According to reporting from 5 On Your Side, Missouri law covers only texting and driving and only applies to drivers under the age of 21. All states adjacent to Missouri have more rigorous laws on the books when it comes to distracted driving practices. For example, Illinois enforces a texting and hand-held phone ban for all drivers.
Reports show that a high percentage of people hit by distracted drivers have done nothing wrong. They have followed all traffic laws but became crash victims due to a distracted driver failing to yield at a stop sign or veering into another lane of traffic. From 2012 to 2021, at least 801 traffic deaths occurred on Missouri roads as a result of distracted driving collisions.
Current efforts to increase protections against distracted drivers focus on making sure drivers do not use hand-held devices while operating a motor vehicle. As with similar laws in other states, the proposals moving through committees still let people use their phones when parked or in specific emergency situations.
Other proposals from previous years have failed to pass in the Missouri legislature. A number of organizations support the passage of enhanced distracted driving laws.
Distracted driving accidents continue to take a toll on Missouri drivers. Victims have the option of seeking compensation through the legal system.