Distracted driving is a serious concern for traffic safety. A distracted driver is one who is paying attention to something other than driving such as typing a text message, selecting music on an MP3 player or radio, or talking on a cell phone.
From 2006 to 2010, distracted driver-involved crashes accounted for 21% of all fatal crashes in King County, killing 100 people (average 20 people each year) and seriously injuring an additional 388 people.
...Washinton Traffic Safety Commission, September 2011
"Driver Distracted" was the fifth leading contributing cause and "Inattention" was the sixth leading contributing cause reported by law enforcement officers for all traffic collisions in Washington State in 2010.
...Washington Department of Transportation, 2010 Annual Collision Data Summary
While sources of distraction may vary, the dangers associated with cell phone use are alarming. A 2009 study revealed that drivers of heavy vehicles or trucks who text messaged were at a 23 times higher risk for a crash than non-distracted drivers. Using a cell phone can pose a serious cognitive distraction even with a hands-free (headset, speakerphone, or other) device. As a general rule, drivers should make every effort to move to a safe place off of the road before using a cell phone.
Text, Talk, Ticket!
As of June 10, 2010, Washington's cell phone law came into effect. If police see you holding a phone to your ear or texting while driving, they can pull you over. The fine for cell phone use is $124 and can be more if you cause a crash.
- Washington's Text Messaging Law (RCW 46.61.668) prohibits sending, reading, or writing a text message while driving.
- Washington's Cell Phone Law (RCW 46.61.667) prohibits hand-held wireless communication device use while driving.
In an emergency situation, drivers are permitted to use a cell phone. Drivers should assess the urgency of the situation and the necessity to use a cell phone while driving and should consider pulling over to a safe place off of the road if possible.
- Holders of an Instruction Permit (RCW 46.20.055) or an Intermediate License (RCW 46.20.075) cannot use any wireless communication device (regardless if hand-held or hands-free) while driving unless in an emergency situation.
For more information, visit the Text, Talk, Ticket website.
Distracted driving prevention resources