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Every year, distracted driving crashes result in thousands of fatalities in Missouri and across the United States. In 2017 alone, there were 3,166 such fatalities reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To stay safe, drivers will want to reevaluate how they act behind the wheel and recognize all the things that distract them.

First, there is the issue of smartphone use. Even hands-free devices can steal a driver’s attention from important signals, so it is always wise to put the phone on Do Not Disturb. Unfortunately, drivers can be disturbed by conversations with passengers, too, so some drivers may need to limit the number of passengers they take with them.

Simple activities like eating and drinking are likewise distracting; they will require the use of at least one hand and may lead to a spill. Drivers who make a habit of eating their breakfast while going to work will want to think twice.

Drowsiness, which is caused by a lack of sleep and aggravated by factors like shift work, sleep disorders and the drinking of alcohol, is another source of driver inattention. Those who must keep driving in spite of drowsiness may want to nap for 20 minutes on the roadside and drink coffee. Others who must head out while drowsy could hire a ridesharing service.

Car crashes involving a distracted driver may form the basis for a personal injury claim. Missouri operates under a comparative fault law, so only those whose degree of fault is less than the other party’s can recover damages. That degree of fault will also lower the amount that plaintiffs recover. Victims who intend to file a claim may want a lawyer to assess the situation. Investigators might be brought in to build up the case before the lawyer proceeds to negotiations.