Schmitt Mulhern, LLC

Kansas City Personal Injury Law Blog

How drivers should avoid the distraction of grooming and driving

Grooming while you drive is a temptation. You hit snooze too many times, and you think you're going to be late for work. However, you still want to look your best. Why not save some time by shaving or putting on lipstick while you drive? Look around a bit during your next morning commute and you'll see a lot of drivers doing just that.

However, it's also a serious distraction. You're looking at the mirror, not the road. You have at least one hand off the wheel. You're thinking about something other than the traffic around you.

It’s Motorcycle Season: Tips To Keep Yourself Safe On The Road

Prime motorcycling season is finally upon us. As we move into spring and summer, more and more bikers will be hitting the open road.

If you are a motorcyclist, you probably know all too well the challenges of sharing the road with other motorists. Many motorists fail to accommodate motorcyclists on the road. They may cut them off in traffic, turn suddenly in front of them, and fail to see them when changing lanes. All of these factors contribute to the challenges of riding safely.

Are cell phones causing the rise in pedestrian accidents?

In 2016, the number of fatal pedestrian accidents is estimated at more than 6,000. That is the highest figure in more than 20 years, and is the largest year-over-year increase in at least 40 years. The sharp increase in collisions involving pedestrians is part of a larger trend. While recent years have been bad for deadly car accidents, pedestrian deaths are growing even faster. From 2010 to now, the pedestrian death rate has increased four times faster than the vehicle fatality rate.


The question for many safety experts is what has caused the change in pedestrian safety. Some issues tied to pedestrian accidents are well-established and not prone to fluctuation. Drunk driving accidents involving pedestrians happen regularly, but there is no evidence that this behavior is on the rise. Speeding and aggressive driving are common issues in pedestrian fatalities, but these, too, have remained relatively static in recent years. Many believe that the increase in pedestrian deaths is tied to the use of smartphones, which has undeniably increased over recent years. 

Seat belt laws and seat belt use

Seat belt use has risen dramatically since the safety feature was first invented. When seat belts became mandatory equipment, drivers and passengers gained access to one of the most important tools against car accident fatalities. Today, a large majority of people in cars wear their seat belts. But until the usage rate hits 100 percent, there is still work to be done.

Across the nation, 85.9 percent of people wear their seat belts regularly. Women are more likely to wear them than men. Teenagers are less likely to wear them than older drivers. The federal government wants to improve the overall usage rate, setting a goal of 92 percent for drivers and passengers by 2020.

Overconfidence and car accidents

A large majority of the people on the road believe themselves to be above average drivers. A psychological phenomenon known as illusory superiority leads people to believe that they are better at a skill than they really are. This is particularly true in the case of a complex action like safe driving. There are as many definitions of good driving as there are drivers on the road. People who speed can simply argue that obeying the speed limit is unimportant for good driving and move on, confident in their belief that they are great drivers.

Signs of poor driving

People looking for an accurate picture of their skills as a driver should look to others, or to objective criteria of good driving, for information. There are evaluation tools available to judge driving ability. Insurance companies and safety groups have developed applications for cell phones or some that connect directly to a vehicle to judge driving skills. Drivers preferring something less formal should consider asking someone to discuss their driving candidly. Perhaps the simplest trick is to consider how other drivers react. Bad drivers are more likely to find themselves the recipients of honking and rude gesturing than other drivers. A driver who is honked at on a regular basis is almost certainly doing something wrong. 

2 children pass away after being thrown from car in accident

In a tragic story out of Northeast Kansas City, a pair of children were killed in a car accident. Neither of them had their seat belts on or were otherwise restrained.

The authorities did not give out official ages for the children. When witnesses were asked, though, they claimed one appeared to be six years old and the other was around nine. Again, though these exact ages could be slightly off, it's apparent that they were young children.

Distracted drivers are increasing your car insurance premiums

Distracted driving is an epidemic. More and more people are finding more and more ways to multitask behind the wheel, and it's putting us all at risk.

But there is another problem with distracted driving, and it has to do with the financial side of things: Insurance premiums are going up - and people who engage in distracted driving are partly to blame.

Commercial truckers put Missouri motorists at risk

Behaviors that are obviously dangerous for cars and SUVs are even worse for commercial trucks. The sheer size of a semi-truck amplifies common hazards, such as stop-and-go traffic, poor weather conditions, objects in the roads and other adverse conditions.

Lower speeds are always advisable, especially for large trucks. This was made clear in a 2012 American Transportation Research Institute study that linked reduced speed with fewer crashes.

Despite the research, far too many commercial vehicle drivers continue to drive above the speed limit. Their reckless behavior puts all other drivers - and their passengers - at risk. The Missouri State Highway Patrol Statistical Analysis Center reported that 109 people died and 3,185 were injured in commercial vehicle crashes in 2014. While these numbers are slightly fewer than in previous years, there is much room for improved safety on roads in the state.

Boredom is a big risk on the highway

Many people think aggressive drivers who are very engaged with the experience are the ones who pose the greatest risk. They tend to speed, pass when there's just barely enough room and do other things of this nature.

Of course, aggressive drivers can cause accidents and they do every day. However, one study found that one of the biggest risk factors was just the opposite: boredom. Drivers who were bored behind the wheel caused 1.5 more crashes than others.

Ben Schmitt

Attorney Ben Schmitt

Mr. Schmitt has over 25 years of legal experience in Missouri and Kansas, and he has been first chair in over 100 jury trials in state and federal courts. He is recognized by the Kansas City Business Journal, Super Lawyers, and Martindale Hubbell as one of the best personal injury lawyers in Missouri and Kansas.

Matt Mulhern

Attorney Matt Mulhern

Mr. Mulhern has over 25 years of legal experience and a 100 percent success rate arguing before the Missouri Court of Appeals. He has a unique knowledge of the inner workings of insurance companies and how they will dispute your injury claim. He practices in both Missouri and Kansas.