Financial website MoneyGeek recently conducted a study that ranked each state for distracted driving. Researchers in the study analyzed crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the years 2017 and 2018. Out of the top 25 states, the Evergreen State ranked sixth in the nation for having the highest rate of distracted driving deaths per billion miles traveled.
Crash data from 2017 and 2018 showed that approximately 259 people died in Washington due to distracted driving crashes during the two years. This accounted for a distracted driving fatality rate of 2.09 per billion miles traveled.
In another study conducted by MyCarInsurance123.com, Washington ranked 4th in the nation for distracted driving crashes. The study cited 133 fatal statewide crashes linked to distracted driving in 2018. This accounted for nearly 15 percent of all of the 545 fatal crashes for that year. Phones are the culprit in most distracted driving crashes, of course.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission asserts that drivers who use phones are three times more likely to be involved in a crash. The commission even likens drivers who use phones to drivers with blood alcohol concentration levels of 1.9 percent.
What are state officials doing to curb distracted driving?
Washington state law prohibits drivers from holding phones or using them for any reason. Drivers can only use phones or other handheld devices under these circumstances:
- Phones are connected to hands-free devices
- Phones are mounted and touched or swiped once
- Drivers are parked somewhere out of the line of traffic
- A phone is needed due to an emergency situation
State lawmakers currently seek to double the fines for distracted driving. House Bill 1256 recently passed and is now waiting to be voted on in the Senate. The current penalties for using a phone while driving include:
- $135 fine for a first offense
- $235 fine for a second offense
If HB 1256 becomes law, first-time offenders will be fined $237. Half of the revenue collected from fines would go into a state account to make school zone safety improvements.
What are my legal options if I'm involved in a crash with a distracted driver?
If a distracted driver caused your crash, you are well within your right to pursue legal damages against his or her insurance company. This includes expenses for property damage, medical expenses, wage loss, pain, suffering, and other non-economic damages.
Pursuing a car accident claim in Washington isn't easy, however. Insurance companies are often reluctant to pay the full amount of damages owed to you. Sometimes, they'll attempt to avoid paying you at all, even when it's clear that the driver they represent caused your crash.
That's where the attorneys at The Scott Law Firm PLLC come in. We have built ourselves a solid reputation in Vancouver and Southwest Washington for helping injured motorists obtain the compensation they deserve. Contact us online or call us at (360) 718-3640 to schedule your free consultation.