Written by: Emma Alty, Advocate
April is distracted driving awareness month and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, each day approximately 9 people are killed and roughly 1000 people are injured from crashes due to distracted driving. There are three major types of distractions: cognitive, visual, and manual.
Cognitive distractions happen when you let your mind wander and are not focusing on driving. Have you ever driven from one to place to another and not realized how you arrived there? Visual distractions are when your eyes are no longer focused on the road but rather another object/person. Some examples of these include: looking at your phone, talking to passengers, reading text messages etc. The third major type of distraction are manual ones. These occur when the driver physically takes his or her hands off the steering wheel. Examples of these include but are not limited to: changing the radio station, trying to plug in your phone, making a phone call etc. All of these distractions significantly increase the chances of a car accident and it only takes a second for an accident to occur.
According to Washington state law, drivers are not allowed to use a hand-held cell phone while driving, this includes when stopped in traffic or at a traffic light. The only exception to this law is if you’re trying to contact emergency services. However, state law allows to use bluetooth devices while driving and most cell phones are equipped with this capability.
If you are pulled over for using your cell phone, you can risk a fine of at least $136 and a report to your insurance company. Remember the law when you decide whether it is worth it to send that text and ask yourself is it worth the fines and the risk of injuring or killing yourself or someone else? Stay safe and eliminate distractions while driving!