Federal and State Laws Focus on Dangerous Cell Phone Use

Attorneys who handle personal injury cases in Missouri and St. Louis are seeing more cases that involve drivers on their cell phones. Whether being used in a conversation or by texting while driving, the use of a cell phone is a frequent cause of car accidents and tractor trailer accidents on the highways, interstates, and local roads in the area.

Attorneys who handle personal injury cases in Missouri and St. Louis are seeing more cases that involve drivers on their cell phones. Whether being used in a conversation or by texting while driving, the use of a cell phone is a frequent cause of car accidents and tractor trailer accidents on the highways, interstates, and local roads in the area. The inattention of drivers who use their mobile phones while operating their vehicles has increased the danger of the public. Nationwide, the focus on banning cell phone use while driving is increasing. For example, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently urged Congress to enact a national law forbidding texting while driving.

St. Louis personal injury attorneys who routinely handle car accidents and tractor trailer accidents involving serious injury, we focus on the possibility of distracted driving resulting from the use of cell phones. From time to time, the negligent drivers who injure our clients have admitted to being on the phone at the time of an accident. We also subpoena phone records to determine if a driver was texting or talking on a cell phone or mobile phone at the time of an accident. The use of cell phone records is also important to our representation of victims of serious truck accidents. The times and locations set forth on cell phone records can be used as a tool to cross reference truck drivers. For example, a driver may indicate that he was in a certain geographical location, but his cell phone records may indicate that he was actually in another location. This type of information can be important as it may help demonstrate that a driver was over the hours of service limits as set forth in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations

The federal government has recognized the importance of regulating cell phone use in commercial vehicles. Starting in January 2012, a federal law became effective which banned the use of cell phones while operating commercial vehicles. According to the news release from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "When drivers of large trucks, buses and hazardous materials take their eyes off the road for even a few seconds, the outcome can be deadly." Individuals who are found to have violated this law will face penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and will be disqualified from driving commercial vehicles for multiple offenses.

In addition to the federal law mentioned above, many states have enacted laws to protect the public from the dangers of driving while texting or talking on a cell phone. Missouri law currently allows cell phone use but prohibits drivers under the age of 21 from texting while operating a vehicle. Legislation has been proposed which would ban texting while behind the wheel.

A serious accident that caused death and serious injury in Missouri has attracted the attention of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). In late 2011, following a hearing involving a serious accident on Interstate 44 in Missouri, the NTSB recommended that state governments should prohibit drivers from using portable devices, such as cell phones, while operating their vehicles. In the accident at issue, a school bus struck the rear of a pickup truck which had earlier crashed into the rear of a tractor. Seconds later, another school bus ran into the first school bus. In Illinois, there are laws that prohibit the use of cell phone usage in construction zones, by drivers under the age of 19, by school bus drivers, and that ban texting bans for all drivers. In Chicago, drivers cannot use cell phones while driving unless the use is through a hands-free device. Currently, legislation has been proposed which would prohibit make all uses of cell phones while operating a vehicle in Illinois.

The laws regulating cell phone use are evolving and are likely to change in the coming months and years. If you think that the use of a cell phone or mobile device has caused damage or injury to you or a loved one, please contact us to discuss your possible case.

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