By Pendergast Law on February 27, 2011
In February of 2010, 19 year old Heather was killed instantly one month after her birthday, as her car left the roadway south of Tumwater, struck a guardrail and tumbled into a ditch. She was texting a friend in the minutes before the crash. Again in February of this year, a two-year old female passenger was injured during a collision in Thurston County when the 29-year old driver left the roadway, drove into the shoulder and struck a parked pick up head on. This driver was also texting.
These unfortunate drivers were not alone, even with the texting and driving laws, thousands of people are injured or killed every year while texting or being otherwise distracted. That’s why it’s good to remind ourselves and our teenage drivers that when you’re in the car – keep your hands off the phone. Remember, if you’re driving on the freeway, you can travel more than the length of a football field in the time it takes to simply read a short text message or dial a number.
Here are some other quick facts about cell phone use while driving that may help to get the message out that distracted driving takes lives and changes families forever:
- 6,000 people – equal to every citizen of the Pierce County city of Steilacoom – were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2008, another 500,000 were injured.
- A driver talking on a cell phone is as impaired as a driver with a .08 blood-alcohol level.
- A driver who is texting is as impaired as a driver with a .16 blood-alcohol level. That’s double the legal limit.
- Drivers talking on cell phones are half a second slower to hit the brakes in emergencies and miss more than half the visual clues seen by attentive drivers. It may not sound like much, but it could mean the difference between a serious injury and getting home safely.
Washington’s New Hands-Free Law
Since 2007, if the police pull you over for a traffic infraction, they also could ticket you if you were holding your cell phone and talking. Legislation passed during the 2010 legislative session changed this cell phone law into a primary traffic offense. That means if the police see you holding your phone, they can pull you over and ticket you. Drivers must use hands-free devices. And new drivers with instruction permits or intermediate licenses aren’t permitted to use wireless devises at all, except in emergencies.
As a parent I urge you to talk to your children about the life-changing effects distracted driving can have and set clear expectations that when they’re driving, they’re not playing with a cell phone. I also urge you to lead by example and never use a cell phone while driving. We all need to know that eyes off the road can change lives forever.
If you or a loved one has suffered a been injured as the result of a motor vehicle accident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim and get compensation for your injuries. If you think you have a claim contact our Seattle personal injury attorneys for a free consultation. You obtain the best possible legal services at the time of your injury without having to pay money out of your pocket for legal services. No recovery means no attorney fee.