Sending a text could be a deadly mistake

Just last Monday a 24-year old driver reaching for a cell phone caused a head-on collision seriously injuring a woman in Callaway County.

Car crashes involving cell phones have become too common in the past decade and officials point their fingers at texting as one of their biggest obstacles when trying to keep the roads safe.

Cell phones have made our lives easier but they can also be deadly.

Many of us are guilty of sending a quick text while we drive but the highway patrol said the number one cause of crashes in Missouri is inattention.

"Ever since we've been little boys and girls we've been told to pay attention and it's never more important than when you get behind that wheel," Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Paul Reinsch said.

In Missouri, if your under the age of 21 it's illegal to text while you drive.

Many said the law shouldn't be in place just for those under 21.

Reinsch said teenagers are focused on because of their history of crashes. Teenagers make up about 10% of the drivers in Missouri but they are involved in about 1/3 of the crashes in our state.

"It just seems like it is more prevalent in the younger age group because that's kind of their lifestyle and what they're growing up and really getting use to using," Reinsch said.

He also said not just teenagers need to put distractions aside, all drivers need to give their full attention to the road.

"Our opinion is anything that causes a distraction is going to cause traffic crashes and whether you're a young driver, an old driver or whatever the situation is, we just want you to concentrate on the job of driving," Reinsch said.

The Highway Patrol said driving behind someone that's texting is similar to driving behind an impaired driver.

"Their speeds vary, they drift left over across the center line, they'll drift back to the right, across the fog line, and things of that nature, Reinsch said. Very similar to what an intoxicated driver does. A lot of times their reaction time is very slow because they're not concentrating on what's ahead."

In 2009 nearly 5,500 people were killed and almost half a million people were injured in accidents related to distracted driving.

Almost 1 in 5 of those deaths involved reports of a cell phone.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said if you have to be on the phone while you drive you should use a hands-free device.

That way, you can have both hands on the wheel and a better reaction time.

The insurance institute for highway safety said a driver with a handheld device is four times more likely to get into an accident.

We asked you if you thought there should a law against using your cell phone while driving.

70% of you said cell phones should be banned.