More fatal Missouri car wrecks as many work to curb distracted driving

In Missouri, your odds of being involved in a motor vehicle accident increase dramatically during the summer months. While nice weather generally means better road conditions, it also translates into dramatically higher numbers of motorists packing the streets and highways.

While the fatal car accident total in Missouri last year was the lowest it has been in almost 65 years, the numbers are up in early 2014. With more motorists losing their lives on Missouri roads, some believe more needs to be done to improve safety.

Proposed texting ban one option, educating drivers another

During the first four months of 2014, nearly 200 motorists lost their lives on Missouri roads. This is a 10 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

In some areas of the state, the problem has been even more pronounced. Northeast Missouri, for instance, has seen almost a 50 percent increase in fatal car accidents in the first third of 2014 compared to the first third of 2013.

No one can be certain as to the cause of the increased fatality numbers, but many officials have placed some level of blame on distracted driving.

"I've seen women putting on make-up, I've seen men reading books as they're driving down [the road] and they're distracted," Palmyra Police Chief Eddie Brogue, a member of the Safety Roadway Coalition in Northeast Missouri, told WGEM News. "You know you've seen people eating and drinking for years and never thought anything about it, but even if you're distracted just a little bit an accident can happen in a split second."

Texting and other cellphone use behind the wheel have been cited by many authorities as among the most dangerous forms of distraction. Although Missouri bans texting for drivers under the age of 21, it remains one of the few states without an anti-texting law that applies to all drivers. Drivers who pick up their phone or are otherwise distracted behind the wheel may be ticketed for careless and imprudent driving, however.

Some are calling for Missouri lawmakers to enact a comprehensive texting ban this year. In fact, in mid April, a texting and driving simulator was brought to the state capitol in Jefferson City so that lawmakers could experience the dangers of texting behind the wheel firsthand. Most of those who tried the simulator were unable to maintain control for more than a few minutes.

While it is uncertain whether Missouri lawmakers will enact a new texting ban for drivers this year, some organizations are taking a different approach to the problem of distracted driving: education. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently launched a graphic Public Service Announcement campaign to spread the word about the consequences of distracted driving. The PSA warnings began airing in Missouri in April. Some schools are even holding distracted driving assemblies to promote similar messages in advance of prom season.

Harmed by a distracted driver? Talk to a Missouri car accident lawyer

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, or if you have lost a loved one to a crash involving distracted driving, you may be entitled to compensation. Money can never undo the harm done to you, but it can account for medical expenses, lost wages and other damages. What's more, pursing a legal case can send a powerful message to distracted drivers that could serve to deter future dangerous behavior. Talk to a Missouri car accident lawyer today about your legal options in the wake of a crash.