Distracted driving remains a potent cause of serious car accidents in our state. Washington’s related electronic device laws are designed to prevent this cause of crashes, but unfortunately some motorists continue to text and engage in other distracting driving behaviors behind the wheel.What is Distracted Driving?

Distraction is any activity that takes your attention off the road and the task of driving. There are three ways distraction can take shape:

  • Visual, in which an activity like texting takes your eyes off the road
  • Manual, which involves taking a hand off the steering wheel
  • Cognitive, which occurs when your attention and mind stray from the task of driving

Texting involves all three types of distraction. Even though activities like talking on a phone via Bluetooth involves only cognitive distraction, research has shown that drivers who are cognitively distracted don’t see and recognize objects and people on the road. This is called inattentional blindness; even though you are looking at the road in front of you, you may not “see” and recognize a pedestrian crossing the street or a child running into the road.

Distracted driving remains a widespread problem across the United States. Roughly 3,450 people died as a result of distracted driving crashes in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Dangerous driving distractions include:

  • Texting
  • Talking on a cell phone
  • Eating
  • Applying cosmetics
  • Personal grooming
  • Arguing or getting into a distracting conversation with a passenger

Driving requires a motorist’s full attention. Even on a road you travel every day, you never know what unexpected scenarios will appear in front of you: a crash, a pedestrian, debris on the pavement. Our full attention is required to respond, keeping ourselves, our passengers and others out of harm’s way.

The Distracted Driving Law in Washington

Washington’s updated distracted driving law went into effect in the summer of 2017. Highlights include:

  • You may not text or talk with your phone in your hand, even if you are at a stop light or stopped in traffic
  • You may not use any hand-held electronic device – tablet, phone, laptop – behind the wheel
  • You can use your cell phone if it is hands-free and you use a single touch or swipe to begin and end your call
  • You may use your phone to call 9-1-1
  • You may use your phone if you are parked and out of the flow of traffic

A motorist’s first citation comes with a $136 ticket. Another ticket within 5 years comes with a fine of at least $234.

Washington Crash Statistics

Like all of the country, Washington has its share of tragedies caused by distracted driving:

  • 154 people died because of accidents involving distracted driving in Washington in 2016
  • 30 percent of our state’s crash deaths are caused by distracted driving
  • 23 percent of serious injuries in crashes are caused by distracted driving
  • You are 3x more likely to get in a crash if you’re talking on the phone
  • 70 percent of observed distracted drivers were using their phones

Source: https://wtsc.wa.gov/programs-priorities/distracted-driving

What to do after a Crash in Seattle or the Surrounding Areas

If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious car accident and you suspect it was caused by the other driver’s careless behavior, please call the experienced attorneys at Buckley & Associates for a complimentary consultation. Contact our Seattle office at 206-622-1100, and the Tacoma office at 253-582-3200.

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