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Health eTips is produced by the staff of the St. Charles County Department of Public Health. The department consists of three divisions - Environmental Health and Protection, Health Services and Humane Services - that provide a wide range of services focused on enhancing the well-being of this community.

If you have questions about the Department of Public Health or have suggestions on public health topics you'd like to see explored in this blog, please email us.

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Aug 10

Driving Distractions

Posted on August 10, 2017 at 10:22 AM by Doug Bolnick


The average American spends more than 70 minutes each day inside a vehicle. With our busy lives often centering on family and career activities, vehicles have become mobile offices, social centers and networking hubs.

Texting driver
Distracted Driving Dangers
Driving distractions, such as talking on the phone, eating, putting on makeup, changing the radio and texting, cause numerous problems. Statistics show that nearly 20 percent of Missouri’s traffic accidents involve some form of distracted driving. Across the United States, these accidents caused around 400,000 crash injuries and nearly 3,500 deaths in 2015.

Texting is an especially dangerous activity because it takes a driver’s attention away from the road more frequently and for longer periods than other distractions. Texting drivers spend up to 400 percent more time with their eyes off the road, typically for up to five seconds or longer when reading or replying to messages. Additionally, texting often requires a driver to handle the phone itself, which means that one or more hands are not on the wheel of a moving vehicle. To learn more about the hazards of texting while driving, please watch the Missouri State Highway Patrol video “The Last Text.”

Many states and municipalities have enacted laws to ban texting while driving. Missouri is one of those states, making it illegal for drivers age 21 or younger to send text messages while driving.

Latch On Tight
Distracted driving is certainly not our only challenge. Although overall traffic deaths have decreased since 2005, more than 6 out of 10 Missourians killed in traffic crashes last year were unbuckled. Proper fit is important when it comes to safety belts:Seatbelt use by family
  • The lap belt should fit across your hips and below your stomach.
  • The shoulder belt should cross the middle of your chest, away from the neck, and be secured across the pelvis and rib cage.

Drivers and most passengers must wear seatbelts when the vehicle is in motion. In Missouri, law enforcement officers may issue a ticket for drivers and front seat passengers who are not wearing a seat belt and for any passengers ages 15 or younger in any seat. Be aware that this law only applies to Missouri, as traffic laws can vary by state.

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Seatbelt use by family