Despite Washington state’s new crackdown on distracted driving, motorists are still using their phones at a high rate. In the week before Washington’s new distracted driving law went into effect July 23, state police “contacted” - issued warnings or citations - 273 drivers. The following week, 337 drivers were contacted.
Warnings went from 155 to 306 after the law took effect. Citations showed a large increase, going from 27 to 118. A first-time offender ticket costs $136. A second ticket costs $234. Police can also add on an additional fine of $100 for “any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle.”
The law, signed by Governor Jay Inslee in May, bans holding all hand-held devices while behind the wheel of a vehicle. State police is giving drivers a six-month grace period, a time in which troopers are issuing warnings and handing out educational cards about the new law. There is some complexity to the new law - drivers can use their phone to navigate and play music, but must keep the phone by their side or in a cradle - and enforcement is difficult. Drivers are permitted from holding their phone at all times, even at a red light or stop sign.
The Impact Of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is one of the top causes for motor vehicle accidents. The Washington State Department of Transportation estimated that 12,314 accidents in 2016 involved distracted driving, one factor in the higher insurance premiums drivers are paying. A state observation team found that approximately one in 10 drivers had some kind of distraction in their vehicle while on the road.
Unfortunately, distracted driving - particularly using a cell phone or electronic device - is far too common. According to the National Highway & Transportation Administration, a driver that is texting is just as impaired as someone who has consumed four alcoholic drinks. Many people consider using a cell phone while driving a standard practice - half of adults and teenagers polled in one study said they have ridden in a car while the driver was texting - but the results can be deadly.
According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, distracted driving deaths increased by 32 percent from 2014-2015 in Washington. If you were involved in a crash caused by a distracted driver, you have the right to seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance. That driver can be charged with vehicular assault, and having an attorney with experience dealing with such cases can help you recover damages. To contact the legal team at the Davis Law Group, P.S., about your accident involving a distracted driver, you can call (206) 727-4000 or use our online contact form.