Cell phone-related crashes increase in Missouri

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JEFFERSON CITY - Cell phone-related crashes in Missouri are up 35 percent since 2014, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Sgt. Scott White, with Missouri State Highway Patrol, said many distracted driving cases go unreported.

"Many times drivers may not tell us the whole story, or  there are drivers that just can't tell us because they've been killed in a crash," he said.

Missouri ranks in the 40s for most distracting driving, and is one of three states without a complete ban on texting while driving. 

The other two are Arizona and Montana, which rank significantly lower than Missouri for most distracting driving. 

White said texting is the most common cause of distracted driving. But, he said, officers have seen crashes due to the use of Snapchat, Spotify, Pandora and email. 

"We had 918 fatalities here in Missouri Last year, those aren't just numbers. They're family members, they're friends, they're sons, they're daughters and that is a lot of doors we had to knock on last year to tell somebody that a family member is not coming home," White said.

According to Missouri Statewide Traffic Accident Records System, in 2017, distracted driving was the second highest cause of accidents behind failure to yield.  

"We definitely suggest that people pay attention out there when they're behind the wheel," White said.