Missouri Passes Siddens Bening Hands Free Law

Safer Roads Ahead: Missouri Passes Siddens Bening Hands Free Law

At Kendall Law Group, we take road safety seriously and are dedicated to keeping all Kansas Citians safe on our roadways and streets. That’s why we want to share important information about the recent changes happening in Missouri that directly affect you. Starting August 28, 2023, it will be illegal to operate a motor vehicle in the state of Missouri while using a handheld mobile device. We’re here to guide you through these changes.

Understanding the Siddens Bening Hands Free Law

Recently passed Missouri Senate Bill 398, the Siddens Bening Hands Free Law states that “…no operator shall: Physically hold or support, with any part of his or her body, an electronic communication device…” This new law specifically prohibits drivers from engaging in the following actions while their vehicle is in motion:

  • Physically holding or supporting a cell phone with any part of your body
  • Manually typing, writing, sending, or reading text-based messages
  • Recording, posting, sending, or broadcasting videos, including video calls and social media posts
  • Watching a video or movie

Exceptions to the New Hands Free Law

Reasonable exceptions are provided by this law for drivers communicating in emergency situations, for emergency first responders and other roadside workers, and for-hire drivers. Additionally, drivers are permitted to:

  • Place or receive voice calls utilizing voice-operated or hands-free functions with a single touch or swipe
  • Talk on the phone, hands-free, utilizing features like built-in phone speakers, in-car Bluetooth, or earbuds/headsets
  • Send or receive text-based communication through voice-to-text features
  • Utilize cell phone GPS navigation and music or podcast functions (hands-free).

Penalties Under Missouri’s New Hands Free Law

The penalty provision of this law imposes a fine of up to $100.00 for first-time violations, increasing to $500.00 for repeat convictions within a two-year period. Additional penalties, including misdemeanor or felony charges, may be imposed if a distracted driver causes a crash resulting in significant property damage, serious injury, or death. The penalty provision will be enacted on January 1, 2025, allowing sufficient time for public education.

Understanding the Dangers of Cell Phone Use While Driving

Cell phone use while driving is incredibly dangerous, posing significant risks to road safety. Consider these eye-opening statistics:

  • In 2019, distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • The same year, there were approximately 424,000 injuries from motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
  • NHTSA reports that using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of a crash by four times.
  • Shockingly, texting while driving is six times more dangerous than drunk driving, as stated by NHTSA.
  • Sending or reading a text message diverts a driver’s attention from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, equivalent to driving the length of a football field at 55 mph without looking.
  • The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 70% of drivers admit to using their cell phones while driving.
  • The Transportation Research Laboratory discovered that texting drivers’ reaction times are 35% slower than those who are not distracted.

Impact of Missouri’s New Hands Free Law on Auto Accident Claims

This new legislation has the potential to affect auto accident claims in several ways:

  • Establishing Liability: Drivers causing accidents while using a handheld electronic device can be held liable for their negligence, bolstering the injured party’s claim against the distracted driver.
  • Contributory Negligence: If the injured party can prove the at-fault driver was using a handheld device, their own potential liability may be reduced, increasing potential compensation.
  • Insurance Adjustments: Insurance companies may adjust their assessment of liability and potential payouts based on the violation of the hands-free law.
  • Impact on Damages: Violation of the hands-free law may support a claim for punitive damages, punishing the negligent driver and deterring others from similar conduct.

Your Trusted Kanas City Auto Accident Injury Attorneys

Drivers distracted by mobile devices often cause severe collisions, resulting in injuries and, tragically, sometimes death. If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent or distracted driver, Kendall Law Group is here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation at (816) 531-3100 or send us a message HERE.

Road safety starts with you. When you hit the road, show respect for not only your own life but for all those around you. Put the phone down and pay attention. Let’s all work together for safer roads!

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