The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began doling out grants to police departments in two states that would fund new programs to catch texting drivers in the act.  So far the program that has been used in Massachusetts and Connecticut and has involved the use of spies to physically spot drivers texting behind the wheel.  Could this become the way police officers enforce texting and driving laws?


In 2009, drivers who texted behind the wheel were responsible for over five thousand deaths and over 400,000 injuries.  The definition of distracted driving according to the US Department of Transportation includes any activity (non-driving) "any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing."


The state of Missouri was the 23rd state to impose a ban on texting and driving.  Missouri bans the use of cell phones behind the wheel for drivers age 21 or younger.  The ban includes using a phone or electronic device to send or receive written communication.  Efforts by lawmakers to extend the ban to all Missouri drivers have gone nowhere.  In Kansas, only drivers with permits or intermediate licenses are banned from cell phone use behind the wheel.  All Kansas drivers are banned from texting while they are driving, however.


A new federal government program designed to give police departments in two states grant money in order to develop methods to enforce texting laws raises questions about how those laws would be enforced in states like Kansas and Missouri.  For example, in Missouri, how would the law address texting drivers who may or may not be the age of 21?  How is a police officer to base his or her actions on the perception of the driver’s age?  In Massachusetts and Connecticut, the states that are participating in the program, the program has included spying on drivers to see whether or not they are texting.


Kansas and Missouri are not part of this experimental program designed to study ways to enforce bans, but experiment could have far reaching ramifications for drivers across the United States.  Victims of distracted drivers in Kansas and Missouri should seek the help of a qualified personal injury attorney for help.  Be sure to download your free copy of the resource guide Don’t Wreck Your Injury Claim for more helpful information.  This guide is provided by Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys.

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James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.