Missouri Hands-Free Law Has Prevented 80 Crashes


A month after Missouri’s new hands-free law went into effect Aug. 28, research from Cambridge Mobile Telematics showed technology-driven distracted driving among the state's drivers dropped 2.86%, helping to prevent 80 crashes and $1.8 million in economic damages to date.  

One month before the law, drivers in Missouri spent an average of 1 minute and 45 seconds of every hour behind the week handling their phones. Since the law began, distracted driving in Missouri has dropped to 1 minute and 42 seconds.

CMT’s research shows every 10% decrease in distracted driving reduces the crash rate by 1.4%. 

"The enactment of Missouri's Siddens Benning Hands-Free Law marks a crucial step toward enhancing traffic safety, with the potential to save numerous lives," said Angela Nelson, vice president of public affairs and government relations at AAA Missouri. "While we are encouraged to see that drivers are choosing to eliminate phone distraction behind the wheel, it’s imperative we all make that personal commitment to reach our goal of 100% reduction in distracted driving."

Missouri is the 28th state to introduce hands-free legislation and the fourth in 2023 after Ohio, Alabama and Michigan. The law requires hands-free phone use for drivers of all ages. According to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, there were nearly 200,000 crashes related to distracted driving from 2012 to 2021, killing more than 800 people.

"In 2023, four hands-free laws were passed across the U.S. Missouri joins Ohio, Alabama and Michigan with the first critical steps to improve safety for millions of drivers,” said Ryan McMahon, SVP of strategy and corporate development for CMT. “We know the greatest challenge comes moving forward to sustain changes in driver behavior in the Show Me State.”

CMT’s research shows public awareness of hands-free laws surges when they go into effect, followed by a decline in distracted driving. A CMT analysis of Google searches for "phone law" in Missouri revealed a spike on the week of Aug. 28, when the law went into effect. CMT uncovered the same search and awareness trends for hands-free laws in Ohio, Alabama and Michigan.

CMT defines phone motion distraction as when the phone rotates with the screen on while the vehicle moves. The analysis includes driving data from 1.2 million trips across Missouri from Aug. 29 through Sept. 24.

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