Driving is an activity that requires our full attention, but because it's something millions of people do each day, we don't always give it our full attention. This is risky, and thousands of people are killed each year in the United States in distracted driving accidents.
In recent years, Washington state has taken aggressive measures to combat the distracted driving epidemic. Our state now 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.
Although we can never fully eliminate human error from the traffic safety equation, we can all do our own part to pay attention when behind the wheel. Accidents caused by distracted drivers are unnecessary and avoidable, and often cause serious injuries and pain and suffering for the victim.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident in Seattle or Washington state caused by a distracted driver, contact attorney Chris Davis and the team at Davis Law Group, P.S., at (206) 727-4000 to have your case reviewed and to schedule a free case evaluation. The award-winning distracted driving accident lawyers will review your case absolutely free, with no obligation.
Washington State Distracted Driving Law
On July 23, 2017, a new distracted driving law went into effect in Washington state, making it illegal to even hold an electronic device while behind the wheel. Drivers are only allowed “minimal use” of a finger on their device if it’s a quick tap to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function. This means that you can still use your cell phone to play music or check GPS directions, but your phone must be at your side or in a dashboard cradle, not in your hand.
The penalty for violating the distracted driving law — referred to as an E-DUI — is a primary offense, which allows state and local police to issue tickets to drivers based solely on the officer's observation of text messaging or illegal cell phone use. The fine for a first offense is $136; subsequent fines rise to $235. Insurance companies are allowed to treat citations under this new law as moving violations, and can raise offenders’ rates.
Washington state gave drivers a six-month grace period to adjust to the new law, with officers issuing primarily warnings to violators. In that six-month window, Washington State Patrol issued 6,475 warnings.
The laws are much tougher on semi-truck drivers. On January 26, 2010 a federal law went into effect that bans drivers of commercial vehicles from texting or using a cell phone while driving. Those who are caught violating this law are subject to a $2,750 fine.
Top Causes Of Distracted Driving
It's estimated that roughly 25 percent of car accident fatalities are a result of distracted driving. Every year, about 3,500 people are killed and 392,000 are injured in car crashes involving distracted drivers. Here are the main causes:
- General distraction: The primary cause of these accidents is a driver's attention wandering away from the road.
- Cell phone use: The top electronic distraction for drivers is their cell phone.
- Another person, object or event: Looking at another driver or watching something along the road causes many accidents.
- Other occupants: Passengers in your vehicle that draw your attention away from the road can cause a collision.
- Reaching for a device: Even going for your cell phone can lead to accidents.
- Eating or drinking: Having a snack (or a full meal) behind the wheel is a bad idea.
- Changing radio or climate controls: These quick actions can be deadly.
- Adjusting controls: Even moving the seat, mirrors or seatbelt is dangerous.
- Moving objects: Objects such as pets can make you take your eyes off the road.
- Smoking: Only about 1 in a 100 accidents are related to lighting or smoking a cigarette.
Davis Law Group Helps Client Injured By Distracted Driver
Davis Law Group helped this client after he was injured in a crash for the second time. This time, he knew what not to do after the accident, which was caused by a distracted driver, because of his past experience and following the tips in the "Ten Biggest Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Accident Case" Book by our very own attorney Chris Davis.
Proving Distracted Driving After A Crash
In order for you to recover financially from a distracted driving accident, your personal injury attorney must prove that the driver acted negligently. Here are the different ways possible to prove a driver was engaging in a type of distracted driving:
- The driver admits it: This rarely happens, as drivers are not advised by their lawyer to admit fault immediately after an accident.
- Witness testimony: In some cases, bystanders or other drivers will provide police with a statement of what they saw. If another driver noticed the causing driver using their cell phone or engaging in another type of distracted driving behavior, this would greatly help your case.
- Cell phone records: Text and call records can be used as evidence that the driver was using their cell phone when the accident occurred. Some people have attempted to forge or withhold cell phone records because it proves they were at fault.
- Video evidence: Cameras are everywhere, including street signs, traffic signals, police dashboards, etc. If video evidence shows that the driver was distracted, it could prove negligence in your case.
2017 Washington State Distracted Driving Accident Statistics
- Fatal collisions: 86
- Suspected serious injury collisions: 202
- Suspected minor injury collisions: 852
- Possible injury collisions: 2,555
- No apparent injury collisions: 7,817
- Total distracted driver-involved collisions: 11,512
2017 King County Distracted Driving Accident Statistics
- Fatal collisions: 12
- Suspected serious injury collisions: 51
- Suspected minor injury collisions: 230
- Possible injury collisions: 804
- No apparent injury collisions: 2,425
- Total distracted driver-involved collisions: 3,522
Facts About Distracted Driving Accidents
￼Distracted driving is an ongoing problem that has yet to be resolved. It is a step in the right direction that it is illegal in most states, but this dangerous act is still happening every second on our roadways.
The following statistics and information are designed to give you an idea of how prevalent and dangerous distracted driving is:
- 85 percent of drivers are distracted by the phone while driving
- For every 6 seconds of drive time, a driver sending or receiving a text message spends 4.6 of those seconds with their eyes off the road
- Drivers are on their phone for 1 out of every 6 minutes while driving
- 71 percent of drivers are texting while driving
- Studies have shown that texting while driving can double a driver's reaction time
- A driver of a vehicle dialing a cell phone is 2.8 times more likely to get into an accident than a non-distracted driver
- 74 percent of all drivers say they support a ban on hand-held cell phone use, and 94 percent would support a ban of texting while driving
- A driver talking on the phone is 1.3 times more likely to get into an accident
- A driver reaching for a cell phone or any other electronic device is 1.4 times more likely to be in an accident
- A texting driver is just as impaired as a driver who has consumed four alcoholic beverages
- Satellite navigation systems cause car accidents at a rate higher than texting and driving
Driving With A Pet On Your Lap
It’s not unusual to be driving down the road and see someone’s small dog sticking their head out the driver’s side window. In Washington state, it is illegal to drive with your pet on your lap while driving, or on the vehicle’s dashboard.
“Because you can’t predict the actions of the animal, it could be a sudden hazard,” a Washington State trooper said regarding this issue. “It’s negligence to have a live animal that could distract the driver.”
In Washington state, it is not specifically illegal to just have your pet in the car, but certain actions are covered by the second-degree negligent driving law – the same law that covers distracted driving. According to news reports, the fine for driving with a dog or cat on your lap is $550. However, if the animal is in a carrier and not a distraction to the driver, it will not result in a fine because the animal is not a threat to the driver.
Distracted Driving Settlements
Below are just a few of the many distracted driving accident cases that have been successfully resolved by Davis Law Group.
- $1,090,000 Rear-Ended By Distracted Driver (Case No. 200299, Insurance Company: Farmers)
- $450,000 Rear-Ended On Downtown Seattle Exit (Case No. 200712, Insurance Company: Arch)
- $200,000 Rear-Ended In Kent By Speeding Car (Case No. 200789, Insurance Company: State Farm)
- $160,000 Rear-End Accident Caused By Distracted Driver (Case No. 200240, Insurance Company: Pemco)
- $125,000 Distracted Driver Causes Car Accident Injuries (Case No. 200043, Insurance Company: Progressive)
- $120,000 Driver Distracted By Mobile Phone App Causes Crash (Case No. 200216, Insurance Company: State Farm)
- $110,000 Injured In Crash Caused By Distracted Driver (Case No. 200249, Insurance Company: USAA)
- $100,487 Rear-Ended By Distracted Driver (Case No. 200030, Insurance Company: State Farm)
- $100,000 Rear-Ended By Distracted Driver While At Stoplight (Case No. 200822, Insurance Company: Farmers)
- $100,000 Rear-Ended By Distracted Highway Driver (Case No. 200924, Insurance Company: Encompass)
- $100,000 Driver Distracted By Phone Causes Accident (Case No. 200618, Insurance Company: American Modern)
- $100,000 Distracted Driver Causes Motor Vehicle Accident (Case No. 200235, Insurance Company: Confidential)
- $100,000 Distracted Driver Causes Injury Accident (Case No. 200185, Insurance Company: GEICO)
- $100,000 Distracted Driver Causes Car Crash (Case No. 200576, Insurance Company: American Family)
- $100,000 Car Hit Broadside By Distracted Driver (Case No. 200674, Insurance Company: Progressive)
- $100,000 Accident Caused By Driver Wearing Headphones (Case No. 200160, Insurance Company: Progressive)
- $90,000 Distracted Driver Causes Two-Vehicle Collsion (Case No. 200122, Insurance Company: Northland)
- $83,000 Distracted Driver Causes Collision (Case No. 200363, Insurance Company: MetLife)
- $80,000 Two-Vehicle Crash Caused By Distracted Driver (Case No. 200489, Insurance Company: Great West)
- $75,000 Accident Caused By Cell Phone Distracted Driver (Case No. 200335, Insurance Company: North Pacific)
- $74,529 Cell Phone Distracted Driver Causes Crash (Case No. 200086, Insurance Company: Allstate)
- $60,000 Distracted Driving Accident Causes Back Injuries (Case No. 200615, Insurance Company: USAA)
- $50,000 Rear-Ended By Distracted Driver (Case No. 200663, Insurance Company: GEICO)
- $40,852 Distracted Driver Hits Monther Driving With Two Small Children (Case No. 200719, Insurance Company: State Farm)
- $36,500 Distracted Driver Causes Collision (Case No. 200313, Insurance Company: Nationwide)
- $23,000 Distracted Driver Rear-Ends Stopped Cars (Case No. 200900, Insurance Company: Progressive)