Bellingham Police Department Renews Focus on Distracted Driving
On Friday, December 14 the Bellingham Police Department held a patrol for distracted driving on Bellingham roads between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. As a result of the patrol, Bellingham police made 43 traffic stops and issued 20 tickets; six tickets were for drivers using their cell phones. Other infractions included drivers applying makeup, eating breakfast, shaving and using an iPad while driving.
Texting while driving six times more dangerous than driving intoxicated
In 2014 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated and that it has now replaced drunk driving as the leading cause of car accidents among teenagers. Texting while driving causes over 3,000 deaths and 330,000 injuries every year according to a study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis.
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.
Washington State distracted driving laws
On Tuesday, May 16, 2017 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.
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