Washington state has very strict laws against distracted driving, but unfortunately that doesn't prevent many drivers from texting, sending emails, talking on the phone, and other dangerous activities when they are behind the wheel of a car.
State law requires drivers who wish to talk on a cell phone to use a hands-free device so they are not distracted by their mobile phone while driving a vehicle. These laws exist to encourage drivers to focus their attention on driving safely, but we all know that laws can only do so much.
Davis Law Group has represented countless victims of motor vehicle accidents caused by a distracted driver. If you have been injured by a driver who was distracted at the time of the accident, it may be in the best interests of you and your family to consult with an attorney about your legal options.
Distracted Driving Accident Statistics
It has been estimated that, at any given moment, over 800,000 Americans were texting, making calls, or using a handheld cell phone while driving a motor vehicle during the day. In 2012, distracted driving motor vehicle accidents killed approximately 3,000 Americans.
Between 2004 and 2008, distracted driving in Washington State contributed to 758 deaths, which is an average of 152 deaths per year. Distracted driving was involved in 25.8% (758 of 2,941) of all traffic deaths during the five year period. In Washington State, nearly 90 percent of distracted driving-involved deaths were vehicle drivers and their passengers from 2004 to 2008; another 9.8% were pedestrians. Approximately 42 percent of all distracted driving accident deaths during that period in Washington happened in King, Pierce, Yakima, Snohomish and Thurston counties.
The greatest number of deaths in Washington that involve distracted driving accident occur between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM--during rush hour. Half (382 of 758; 50.5%) of distracted driving involved deaths occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Saturday. Collision data collected by crash investigators underreports driver distraction. Often no evidence of distraction exists at the crash scene and drivers are reluctant to admit distraction played a role in the crash.
A large percentage of rear-end accident are caused by a distracted driver who “looked away for just a second” to review a text message or to dial a number, failed to notice that traffic ahead had slowed or stopped and then slammed into another driver.
Federal Distracted Driving Laws
On January 26, 2010 a federal law went into effect that bans drivers of commercial vehicles in the United States from texting or using a cell phone while they are driving. Those who are caught violating this law are subject to a $2,750 fine.
The reality is that commercial vehicles are much larger than a standard motor vehicle, and therefore the risk of serious injury or death from an accident involving a commercial vehicle is much higher. The deadly nature of commercial vehicle accidents alone is enough justification for the severe punishment that accompanies federal distracted driving laws.
Washington State Distracted Driving Law
In Washington state, sending and receiving text messages or talking on a cell phone without a hands free device while operating a motor vehicle a primary offense. This allows state and local police officers to issue tickets to drivers based solely on the officer's observation of text messaging or illegal cell phone use. The fine for using a cell phone behind the wheel in Washington state is $124.
But laws can only do so much to prevent distracted driving accidents from occurring, and the CDC says more than nine people are killed in crashes involving a distracted driver each day in the United States.