Distracted driving is a serious problem in this country and a leading cause of accidents. Missouri is no exception, as the state sees many accidents each day that are caused by distracted driving. The Missouri Department of Transportation has reported that about 80% of all accidents that occur in the state are the result of some sort of distraction. If you have been injured in a car accident in which the driver who hit you was too distracted to notice you, contact the experienced Kansas City car accident injury lawyers of Peterson & Associates, P.C.

Common Causes of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving accidents could be prevented if drivers would simply pay full attention to the road. Due to this realization, most states have enacted strict laws and penalties regarding distracted driving. Missouri, on the contrary, has some of the most lenient laws regarding distracted driving in the country. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to drive distracted in Missouri. Here are some common causes of distracted driving you should try to avoid.

Texting While Driving

Texting is the leading cause of distracted driving accidents. It seems that people are constantly on their phones and feel the need to respond even while driving. In Missouri, for the majority of people, there are no penalties for using a cellphone while driving. However, there are two categories of drivers that are singled out as exceptions because these two groups are more likely to cause serious accidents than anyone else.

  1. Drivers that are younger than 21 years old can be ticketed for texting while driving.
  2. Commercial drivers can be ticketed for any cellphone use, including calls or texting.

The law assumes that drivers who are older than 21 have gained enough experience using their phones while driving that they can do so without causing an accident. As for commercial drivers, texting and driving is illegal because trucks are extremely large and can cause so much damage, so they are held to a higher standard. There is typically no such thing as a minor truck accident. There is an exception for young drivers and commercial drivers; they are allowed to text or make a phone call in hand-held mode if they are calling regarding an emergency or to report illegal activity.

Adjusting Vehicle Controls, Stereo, or GPS

There are many extra things that draw our attention when we are driving. Whether we are trying to figure out where we are going and fiddling with the GPS, or we're changing the radio station, both can cause us to take our eyes and attention off the road. Even when the computerized GPS tells you the directions, sometimes the voice command may not give you the next turn with enough time to react, or maybe it’s recalculating the route and has you lost or confused about where you are going. Trying to avoid an accident while you are confused about where you are going may lead to quick decisions about which lane to take and can cause collisions.

Having Your Pets in the Car

Many people enjoy bringing their furry companions for rides in the car. Dogs especially love riding in the car, but they very often can be distracting. The dog can climb from the back seat to the front seat, bark unexpectedly, or cause you to watch the cute things they do in the car—all things that distract you while you are driving.

While many times people can avoid this distraction by leaving their pet at home, sometimes an outing with your pet is unavoidable. If you need to take your pet to the veterinarian, for example, you must bring your pet. The best way to travel with your pet is to keep them in a travel carrier. This is also safer for your pet if you were in an accident.

Eating or Drinking While Driving

Everyone’s lives are so busy in this day in age, and we often don’t have the time to sit and eat a proper meal. People go through the drive-thru and often eat in their cars on their way to their next destination. Eating or drinking can be just as distracting as talking on a cellphone or texting. While there is no law stating it is illegal to eat while driving, these distractions can significantly increase your risk of being in an accident and are best avoided as much as possible.

Riding With Passengers in Your Car

Oftentimes, the distraction is from the other people riding in the car with you. Whether it is fussing children or a friend who cannot wait to tell you an engaging story, your mind is not focused on the road exclusively. Any time you are not 100% focused on the road, your risk of an accident increases.

Zoning Out While Driving

It may be surprising to learn that sometimes the biggest distractions are not on the road or next to you in the car but inside your own mind. Daydreaming, thinking about work or the kids, or your growing to-do list are common examples of distractions in our minds that lead us to zone out. It is easy to zone out while driving if you are tired or stressed, and you might not notice an approaching car until it is too late. Many people have had the experience of going on “auto-pilot” when driving the same routes and don’t remember each turn along the way. In those situations, you are not as prepared to react quickly to sudden situations, which may result in an accident.

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