Distracted Driving and Washington’s Ban on Handheld Devices

Distracted driving has always been a danger to everyone on the road; however, it has become an even bigger hazard in the last decade due to the increased use of cell phones and other personal electronic devices across Washington State.

In today’s digital world, almost everyone owns a cellular telephone or smartphone and many people own cars with navigation devices, increasingly complex radios, or even televisions. Unfortunately, these additional in-car distractions have added to the risk of being involved in a vehicular accident with someone who was driving distracted.

Washington State is one of a growing number of states that has banned the use of handheld devices while driving; however, banning handheld devices does not ensure compliance with the law. Nationwide, 25 percent of all drivers report that they talk on their cell phones regularly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That figure climbs to 40 percent for the 18- to 29-year-old age group.

Although distracted driving can be the result of talking on a cell phone or programming a navigation device, it encompasses a variety of other distractions as well. Eating, applying make-up, and talking to passengers or dealing with a pet in the vehicle are all reasons that people may be distracted while driving. America is the multi-tasking capital of the world, and people continue to feel pressure to accomplish more and more in any given day. This pressure often leads people to try and accomplish things in the car that should have been done prior to getting behind the wheel or after reaching their destination.

According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,474 people were killed in 2009 as a result of distracted driving and another 448,000 were injured that year. A full 20 percent of all crashes during the same year were reported to have involved distracted driving.

A report issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), revealed that sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes off of the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. While this may not sound like a significant amount of time, that is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field at highway speeds without looking at the road. That 4.6 seconds is also more time than a driver typically has to react to a potential accident or an obstruction in the roadway, meaning that reading or sending a text message will take away any chance of potentially avoiding an accident. The FMCSA considers the risks associated with the use of handheld devices to be serious enough that they have completely banned texting while driving any commercial vehicle.

If you have been injured in a Washington State car, truck or motorcycle accident and you believe that your injuries were caused by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation for those injuries. To schedule a consultation, please contact the car accident attorneys at the Mariano Morales Law in Yakima at (509) 853-2222. You can also use our online contact form.