On Tuesday, May 16 Governor Jay Inslee signed a tougher distracted driving law for Washington State. The new law – aimed at cracking down on hand-held cell phone use while driving – was originally set to go into effect in 2019. To the delight of the safety advocates, Inslee vetoed the delayed start date in favor of a faster implementation in mid-July stating that the law was too important to wait for the provisions to become law.
The measure prohibits holding an electronic device – including phones, tablets and other electronic devices – while driving, including while in traffic or waiting for a traffic light to change. The measure does allow for “the minimal use of a finger” to activate, deactivate or initiate a function of a personal electronic device while driving. The current law only prohibits texting or holding a phone to the ear while driving.
Distracted driver car accident statistics
Data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) reveals that in 2015, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in car crashes involving distracted drivers. In the study, driver handheld cell phone use decreased from 4.3 percent in 2014 to 3.8 percent in 2015. This translates to approximately 660,000 drivers on U.S. roads and highways using cell phones while driving during daylight hours.
Of all age categories, teenage drivers were the most likely to be reported as distracted at the time of fatal car accidents. It is imperative that teens understand the dangers of distracted driving and using their cell phones while driving.
Parents have a big role to play in reducing their teen’s use of cell phones in the car:
- Parents must lead by example and never talk on a hand held device or text while driving.
- Parents should also have a talk with their children about the consequences of driving distracted and the responsibilities that come with a driver’s license.
- Have everyone in the family sign the pledge to commit to distraction-free driving.
- Remind your teen driver that in Washington State they will receive an “intermediate license” between the ages of 16-18 with even stricter rules and penalties for distracted driving.
- No passengers under 20 years old except for immediate family members for the first six months.
- For the following six months no more than three passengers under 20 years old who aren’t members of your immediate family.
- Cell phone use is not permitted while driving. Period. Teens may only use a wireless device to report an emergency.
- Penalties for violations and accidents:
- First violation: Ticket and warning letter to you and your parent/guardian.
- Second violation: License suspended for six months (or until the driver turns 18, whichever comes first). Notification letter to you and your parent/guardian before suspension takes effect.
- Third violation: License suspended until the driver turns 18. Notification letter to you and your parent/guardian before suspension takes effect.
If you or a loved one was injured in a distracted driving car accident through no fault of your own, contact a skilled car accident lawyer as soon as you are able. He or she may be able to fight for monetary damages on your behalf.
If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!