Written by Stryder Wegener
Distracted driving is a major public safety hazard, and it appears to have only gotten worse over the last several years. While certain causes of car accidents have been reduced lately, distracted driving has been on the rise. Deaths resulting from distracted driving increased 32 percent in Washington state between 2014 and 2015 alone. The state’s new distracted driving law went into effect in July of 2017. It is meant to increase punishments for those not paying attention behind the wheel, and law enforcement began enforcing it in January of this year. Instead of receiving a warning for using your phone while driving, you are likely to be issued an expensive infraction by an officer who finds you distracted while behind the wheel.
The New Distracted Driving Law Seeks to Target Drivers Using Their Phones
While there are a number of distractions available to you while driving, the use of cellphones is clearly one of the greatest and fastest growing threats to safety on the road. Not only can you be distracted by a phone conversation, but smartphones offer a multitude of popular applications that drivers often run while behind the wheel. The most common phone distractions while driving would include text messaging and viewing a map. Sending text messages while driving has been against the law in Washington for some years, but some of the additional details of Washington’s new distracted driving law include:
- All handheld uses of a cellphone are now specifically forbidden, and this includes reading or viewing texts or photography.
- The use of a smartphone mounted on a dashboard cradle is still allowed so long as the driver is only exercising “minimal use of a finger” to use the phone.
- Calls to 911 or other emergency dispatchers are still allowed.
- Driving while using an electronic device is a primary offense, so you can be pulled over simply for that.
- The traffic fine for violating the new law is a $136 citation, and $234 for subsequent offenses.
Many Other Driving Distractions Can Result in Deadly Accidents
Washington’s new distracted driving law will primarily be used to punish drivers who are operating their phones since such violations are relatively easy for lawmakers to define and police officers to identify. However, the law does allow for increased fines if you are pulled over for a driving offense while also being occupied by another form of distraction. A driver can be preoccupied with many other activities that seem insignificant or harmless at first, but can easily cause a serious car wreck. Even if you take your eyes off the road for two seconds, you can travel about 140 feet if your car is going 50 miles per hour.
Of the countless activities that can distract a driver, some of the most common ones that result in deadly accidents include:
- Eating and/or drinking
- Trying to recover an item that has slipped from the seat or dashboard to the floor of your car
- Exhaustion that causes you to fall asleep behind the wheel
- Conversations with others, either using the hands-free feature of your cell phone or with people in your car
A Seattle Distracted Driving Defense Attorney Can Help You
Police in Washington will seek to strictly enforce the state’s distracted driving law in 2018, and this means handing out large fines to violators. Distracted driving results in thousands of deaths in the United States every year and many more victims survive but have long recoveries due to serious injuries. If you have been injured by a distracted driver, you will need an experienced Washington personal injury lawyer to fight for the compensation you and your family deserve. Do not hesitate to call an attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
Emerald City Law Group has helped many families after falling victim to an accident, and we know how to recover the damages that you need to move on with your life. To speak with a skilled Seattle traffic lawyer, contact us today at 206-973-0407.