By Pendergast Law on May 3, 2018
Anyone who’s been out in public in the last few years knows that Americans are addicted to their smartphones. People use them for texting, posting to social media, playing games, watching movies and videos, surfing the Web, and getting directions; all while walking down the street, standing in line, eating at restaurants, in the middle of conversations, stopped at stoplights, and whileâ€¦DRIVING?
Yes, while driving. This, of course, is not a good idea. Texting while driving not only requires taking hands off the steering wheel, it also takes a driver’s eyes away from where they should be — watching the road. Distracted driving is a growing problem in this country, and it has cost many lives. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,000 people are killed annually due to distracted driving; with 3,450 lives lost in 2016 alone. In addition to those killed, thousands more are injured, and not just the occupants of motor vehicles, but also pedestrians and bicyclists.
The dangers of distracted driving have not gone unnoticed by our legislature in Olympia. Last year, Washington State passed one of the nation’s strictest cellphone laws, the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (DUIE) Act. This new law forbids the use of any hand-held electronic devices while driving, and even while stopped at a traffic signal or stop sign. Under DUIE, a driver will have to pull entirely off a roadway to a place where the vehicle “can safely remain stationary,” such as a parking lot. A DUIE violation is also a primary offense, meaning that police officers can pull you over if they see you using a hand-held device. Other provisions of DUIE make activities like eating or grooming behind the wheel ticket-able offense. However, these offenses are considered “secondary” offenses, meaning a police officer would have to pull you over for another reason, such as speeding, and then notice you were eating, in order to write you a ticket.
Our concerned Seattle personal injury attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., recognize the dangers posed by distracted driving, and urge all drivers to keep both hands on the wheel. To help you avoid the temptation to use your cellphone while driving, we are offering FREE magnetic cellphone mounts to anyone who fills out a submission form (while supplies last). The clips attach to your vehicle’s air vent and are perfectly legal under DUIE laws. We’d also like to hear any tips you may have for avoiding distracted driving.
Here are a few of the tips we’ve gotten so far that we’re happy to share with you:
- “Put your phone on do not disturb while driving mode. I turn this on and take the time to just â€˜unplug.’” – Denise B.
- “With ten years of working as a paramedic, I’ve seen firsthand the lives that have been destroyed from texting and driving. My best piece of advice is simple: Just put the phone down. Whatever it is, it can wait.” – Andy B.
- “Pay attention and use a hands-free cellphone.” â€“ Douglas G.
- “Give yourself and other people room to stop in case of an unexpected turn or accident. Also follow the speed limits at all destinations.” â€“ Devin P.
- “Tell people to call you with anything important, so you can ignore texts and not worry about missing important information.” â€“ Sai Fon H.
- “Keeping focus on the road and remove all distractions.” â€“ Jerome W.
A big thank-you to all our participants! We hope you enjoy your free magnetic vent clip!
Unfortunately, following safe driving protocols is not always enough to keep you from being involved in an accident. Other drivers may not be so conscientious. If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a distracted driving accident, you may have grounds for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. For a free case evaluation, call the Renton law offices of Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., at 888-539-9211.