Current Distracted Driving Laws
Cell Phones are Primary Cause of Distracted Driving
- A driver talking on a cell phone is as impaired as a driver with a .08 blood-alcohol level; the legal limit in most states.
- A driver who is texting is as impaired as a driver with a .16 blood-alcohol level!
- Drivers talking on cell phones have slower reaction times. Tests have shown that drivers talking on cell phones hit the brakes half a second slower in an emergency and miss more than half the visual cues seen by drivers who are giving their full attention to the road.
Distracted Driving Defined
Distracted driving is defined as driving a vehicle while engaging in an activity that has the potential to distract the driver from the task of driving such as texting or talking on a cell phone, applying makeup, eating, etc.
As the dangers of distracted driving became more and more clear, states began to fund awareness campaigns such as online videos of real-life family tragedies resulting from distracted driving and add laws to make it easier for police officers to pull drivers over and issue tickets.
Cell Phone Usage Laws in Washington State
Washington State has a hands-free driving law: talking or sending text messages while holding a wireless device is a primary offence and comes with a $124 fine. A primary offense means that if a police officer sees someone holding a phone, they can pull the person over and issue a ticket without a separate traffic offense such as speeding. New drivers with learning permits or intermediate licenses can’t use wireless devices at all except in emergencies.
A report issued by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association in September 2015, assembles a list of current distracted driving laws across the United States:
Hand-Held Cell Phone Laws
Four-teen states plus D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. All are primary enforcement laws.
All Cell Phone Use Laws
No state currently bans all cell phone use for all drivers but 38 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 20 states and D.C. prohibit it for school bus drivers.
Text Messaging bans
In 2007, Washington was the first state to pass a texting ban. Currently, 46 states plus D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. All but five of these states have primary enforcement on their texting ban. Of the four states without an all driver texting ban, two prohibit text messaging by novice drivers and one restricts school bus drivers from texting.
Data on distracted driving is collected as part of crash data collection in almost every state. Each state has its own variation on the specific data it collects. The Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) guideline provides best practices on distraction data collection.
If you or a family member was injured in a distracted driving car accident you should consider contacting a personal injury lawyer who can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. 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!