Distracted drivers cause 20 percent of King County traffic deaths

Distracted drivers in Washington kill and injure numerous people each year despite state laws prohibiting texting and calls without hands-free devices.

This month is Distracted Driving Awareness month in America. Across the nation, thousands of people are killed and hundreds of thousands are injured each year due to distracted drivers. According to the King County Public Health website, an average of nearly 20 people die in the county each year because of automobile accidents caused by distracted drivers.

A driving distraction is defined as anything that causes a driver to pay attention to something other than his or her driving. Distracted driving and inattentive driving are two of the top six contributing causes of car collisions in Washington. Common distractions include the following:

  • Using a cellphone for talking, texting or looking up information
  • Personal grooming
  • Eating and drinking
  • Reaching for something within the vehicle

Washington cellphone and texting laws

In Washington, it is illegal to use a cellphone while driving, except in very limited circumstances, and a law enforcement agent can pull over and ticket any driver they see who is holding a cellphone.

A text messaging law prohibits reading, composing or sending text messages while driving in Washington. The state cellphone law requires the use of a hands-free device when driving and drivers with instruction permits or intermediate licenses may not use a cellphone at any time while driving, even if they have a hands-free device. The only exceptions are for certain emergency situations, such as calling for help at the scene of an accident.

The Washington State Department of Licensing lists cellphones as the most dangerous items driving teenagers possess. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and other motor vehicle occupants are all in harm's way when even just one driver is distracted.

All individuals, parents and peers should model good driving behavior and intentionally influence others to follow Washington laws. Every life is worth saving and every injury worth avoiding.

When to seek legal assistance

Whatever the cause of the distraction, distracted drivers are a danger to themselves and others who share the roads with them. When a negligent driver causes an accident or a wrongful death, legal assistance is often necessary to obtain compensation for losses such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and on-going care.

If you or a loved one suffers an injury in an accident caused by a negligent driver, consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney knowledgeable about car accidents, wrongful death lawsuits and insurance coverage disputes can help.

Keywords: distracted driving, personal injury, wrongful death