According to recent years of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is clear that distracted driving is responsible for thousands of deaths across the country every year. Seattle, too, has not been immune from the dangers of distracted driving.
According to Washington state’s “collision clock” in the Department of Transportation’s Annual Crash Collision Summary, it was revealed that a distracted driver was involved in a crash every 12 minutes in 2015. Worse, distraction was found to be the most common contributing circumstance for all collisions in 2015 on Washington roads.
In sum, 46,348 2015 collisions were attributed to inattentive or distracted driving. These findings and similar studies led Washington to become the first state to pass a texting ban more than a decade ago. Still, texting and distracted driving continued, leading lawmakers to issue a new distracted driving law that took effect in July of 2017.
Washington’s New Distracted Driving Law
Washington’s latest attempt at cutting down on distracted driving in Seattle and the rest of the state forbids a driver from holding an electronic device at any point, including while stopped in traffic. The new law — known as the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act — is meant to close loopholes in existing law, as current laws forbid texting and holding a cellphone at the ear.
As such, some drivers have attempted to skirt these laws by holding their phone between their legs or even just below the chin. The new law simply forbids any form of handheld use, which includes reading or writing any form of electronic message, data or picture.
Seattle drivers may, however, still use a smartphone that is mounted via dashboard cradle for navigating, as well as “minimal” use of a finger to activate a navigational app. Hands-free maps and calling functionality continue to remain legal as well.
Penalty Increase for Distracted Driving
The new law also stiffens the penalties for distracted driving, as the standard $136 fine in the state would almost double for a second distracted driving ticket at $235 for the offense.
Additionally, a citation for distracted driving will be included on a driver’s record by the insurance company, which may well lead to higher insurance rates for Seattle drivers cited with driving while distracted.
Know that if a Seattle police officer sees you using a handheld device in the car, this alone can be used to pull you over under the new law.
Talk to a Seattle Car Accident Lawyer If You Have Been the Victim of a Distracted Driver
It remains to be seen whether the new law will effectively curtail the all-too-common occurrence of distracted driving on Seattle and Washington roads. If you or a loved one has already been injured by a distracted driver, talk to a Seattle injury at The Ledger Law Firm to pursue your right to legal compensation.
Contact us online to take the first step toward receiving the compensation and justice you both need and deserve.