All drivers in Washington State should choose to put focus first
Distracted driving is a common cause of far too many car accidents in Vancouver and throughout Southwest Washington. That's why safety officials in Washington State and across the U.S. have designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
One movement that is trying to put an end to distracted driving accidents on our roads and highways is EndDD.org (End Distracted Driving), an organization that stemmed from the Casey Feldman Foundation. Casey was killed by a distracted driver when she was only 21 years old. Her parents started EndDD.org to launch a campaign that's committed to ending distracted driving and preventing any more devastating fatalities from happening.
“I never thought it could happen to my child, but it can happen to you and it can happen to your children,” says Casey's father, Joel Feldman. “Just like when you look at somebody, hear somebody’s driven drunk, you think, ‘Oh my God!’ We want it to be the same for distracted driving and I think we can get there.”
According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, the state's Annual Distracted Driving Observation Study found that the distracted driving rate fell from 9.4 percent in 2020 to 6.9 percent in 2021.
Officials welcomed the news, but it's important for drivers to remember that there's still work to be done. Bear in mind that it only takes one negligent driver to cause a distracted driving accident that results in severe injury or death.
“Focused driving means safer roads,” said Erika Mascorro, WTSC Program Manager for Distracted Driving. “Seeing more people focused on driving is motivation to get all of us off the phone when we’re on the road.”
Different types of driver distractions
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a driver's attention away from the task of driving. Safety experts categorize the different distractions into 3 types: Manual, Visual, and Cognitive.
Manual distractions: When a driver moves their hands off the steering wheel. Examples of manual distractions are eating, drinking, reaching for items around the car, or holding a cell phone.
Visual distractions: When a driver takes their eyes off the road. Reading a text, looking at a GPS, self-grooming in the mirror, and rubbernecking are all examples of visual distractions.
Cognitive distractions: When a driver's mind wanders and they lose their mental focus while driving. Examples of cognitive distractions include having a phone conversation, reading a text, daydreaming, being deep in thought, experiencing strong emotions (e.g., anger, frustration, sadness), and chatting with a passenger.
Texting and driving is the most common and most deadly form of distracted driving because it falls under all three categories of distraction. According to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting and driving is six times more dangerous than driving drunk.
The WTSC also notes that it can take a driver up to 27 seconds to regain focus on the road after using a cell phone. At just 25 mph, that's the equivalent of driving the length of a football field.
“People save lives when they turn off their phones before they start their cars,” said Mascorro. “Make focused driving a habit by putting your phone in the glove box, by taking 10 minutes before you drive to catch up on phone calls or text messages, or by setting up music or navigation before you drive. We can refuse, like most Washington drivers, to let our phones endanger our lives.”
Distracted driving in Washington
In Washington State, it is against the law to use a hand-held cell phone while operating a motor vehicle, stopped in traffic, or at a stoplight. Since the legislature passed the law in 2017, distracted driving deaths have dropped 40 percent.
The WTSC lists the lawful ways drivers in can use a cell phone.
As a driver, you can use a cell phone if:
- You are hands-free and if the task on your cell phone can be done by a single touch or finger swipe
- You are parked or out of the flow of traffic
- You are contacting emergency services.
A distracted driver who ignores the law and puts themself and others on the road in danger may be fined.
What to do if you were hit by a distracted driver
If you were injured or a loved one died in a distracted driving accident in Southwest Washington, The Scott Law Firm, PLLC, can help you hold the at-fault driver accountable and fight for the compensation you're entitled to.
Depending on the specific details of your case, you may be able to recover compensation for damages including but not limited to medical bills, lost wages, replacement services, and pain and suffering. To find out how much your case might be worth, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our law firm.
We have decades of experience successfully representing crash victims and know what it takes to build winning cases. Discover what we can do for you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Vancouver car accident lawyer. We serve clients throughout Southwest Washington.