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Texting and Driving – Just Don’t

“I’m a good driver. I can text and look at the road at the same time. It is not a big deal.”

One too many young drivers have made this proclamation, and every one of them is wrong.

Texting and driving, often included in the broader category of distracted driving, has real-world consequences. Annually, up to 400,000 people are injured as a result of distracted driving. These victims include drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists. Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention away from the task of driving. This may include eating and drinking, changing the radio station or using the navigation system, and using a cell phone for texting, talking or other purpose. Of these, texting while driving is a serious problem.

Drivers under the age of 25 are more likely to text and drive, and 40% of drivers between 15-18 admit to texting and driving in the past week. When you send or read just one text, your eyes are off the road for about five seconds. If you are driving 55 mph, this is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.  The world outside the windshield deserves your full attention, especially when you are controlling a 3,000-pound vehicle.

Most states and municipalities have laws against texting and driving, but it varies greatly.

Missouri’s Distracted Driving Law

The State of Missouri has a distracted driving law only for commercial drivers and drivers 21 years old or younger. For the latter, you are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle while sending, reading, or writing a text or electronic message using a hand-held device. There are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, you can use your cell phone while lawfully parked or stopped. You can use it to report illegal activity, call for emergency help, or when necessary to prevent injury to person or property. Conviction of a distracted driving ticket in Missouri can cost you $85 and two points on your license. Of course, you shouldn’t text and drive no matter what the law might allow.

So what can we do to curb the dangers of distracted driving? As a driver, promise yourself you will not multitask while driving. Your life and the lives of those around you are worth waiting until your trip is over. While using voice functions to text is a better option, having 100% of your attention on the road is the best option. As a passenger, feel free to speak up if the car is operated by a distracted driver. Offer to help with navigation or changing the radio station so the driver can concentrate on the road.

Finally, as a parent, talk to your teen or young adult about what it means to be a responsible driver. Share statistics and stories about the dangers of distracted driving. Set consequences for this behavior. Most importantly, be a good example. Don’t text and drive yourself.

Being a responsible driver starts from the very first time you are behind the wheel of a car. At Missouri Driving School, we teach good driving habits to all of our students. Our professional instructors are thoughtful, thorough and patient with new drivers. We offer a relaxed one-one-one atmosphere and teaching at your pace. You can even use one of our vehicles to take a driving test as a part of your last lesson with Missouri Driving School. Call us at (314) 849-4590 to schedule a lesson at our convenient St. Louis location.

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