Perhaps you’ve seen it on your way to work—the person in the lane next to you texting or watching a movie during their commute. Or maybe you see someone eating their morning bowl of cereal or putting on makeup instead of having their hands on the steering wheel. You might just shake your head, but if you are honest with yourself, you’ve probably been a distracted driver too at some point.
Unfortunately, distracted driving has become very commonplace on Missouri roadways and has led to a dramatic rise in distracted driving accidents. In fact, the Show Me State reported that cell phone–related crashes, the top cause of distracted driving, have increased 35% since 2014.
Cell phone use and driving
More and more, drivers use cell phones while behind the wheel. Drivers not only use their phones as navigation tools, but also to conduct phone calls, compose texts and emails, and more.
Texting behind the wheel now is viewed as such a hazard that now only two states don’t prohibit it fully: Missouri and Montana. In Missouri, only drivers under the age of 21 are prohibited from texting and driving.
Texting while driving is so dangerous because it covers all three types of distracted driving: visual, cognitive and manual. That means not only are your eyes off the road ahead (visual), but you are not thinking about driving (cognitive) while texting and driving and your hands aren’t fully on the steering wheel either (manual).
Do hands-free features help?
Many drivers think that by using their phone’s hands-free features they can avoid distracted driving. However, according to the National Safety Council, using hands-free features still comes with distracted driving risks. Drivers talking on the phone still miss seeing what is around them because their field of vision narrows. They also still have a cognitive distraction: processing the conversation they are having instead of focusing solely on driving. Some research even shows that talking on the phone using a hands-free device is just as dangerous as driving drunk.
Avoiding distracted driving
To fully avoid distracted driving, drivers can put their phones away while driving. If you put it out of reach, you’re more likely not to use it all. You also can download an app that prevents you from texting and driving or you can turn your phone on silent.
When you stop to think about it, you know that no one text or email is worth dying for. You can wait until you are not driving to complete those tasks. Your safety and the safety of those around you depends on it.