9 Ways Washington Police Can Bust You for Distracted Driving
All of the police in Washington State are cracking down and making distracted driving a focus this month. This is how you make sure you're not busted!
Distracted Driving in Washington State
Distracted driving in Washington State is a big problem. 9 people are killed every day in the US by drivers that are reported distracted. The NHTSA says that in 2021, the United States lost 3,522 lives because of accidents involving distracted driving. In the same year, Washington State saw that 6.9% of crashes involved distracted driving. That number increased to 9.3% of crashes in 2022 according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
Washington State Law for Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is a term used a lot over the years. Most people associate it with texting while driving, but what really is the true definition? The Washington State law RCW 46.61.673 tries to explain that with article (c) saying:
For the purposes of this section, "dangerously distracted" means a person who engages in any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of such motor vehicle on any highway.
There is one important thing to remember is that they Distracted Driving is a secondary offense, and they can not write you a ticket unless "a driver of a motor vehicle has been detained for a suspected violation of a separate traffic infraction or an equivalent local ordinance." That means they need to see you swerve, speed, hit something, cause an accident, or do anything else they could pull you over for normally.
9 Ways to Get Busted for Distracted Driving in Washington
There are safe ways to use your phone while driving including using it hands-free and can start using it with a single touch or swipe of your finger, being parked or out-of-the-flow of traffic, or because you are contacting emergency services.
There are many more than 9 ways to get pulled over for distracted driving. They all fall under one of these 3 categories according to the CDC: 1- Visual: taking your eyes off the road, 2- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel, or 3- Cognitive: taking your mind off driving. These are the biggest 9 things you need to make sure you're not doing.
1- Talking to People in Your Car
Other people in your car can be a big distraction without you even realizing it. A friend can say something that makes you look over or in the back seat for a second, or try to show you something on their phone. Keep your focus on the road, not on the conversations around you.
2- Using Navigation
You might first see the title of #2 Using Navigation and wonder how that can lead to a ticket. Obviously using any handheld device is against the law, but so can looking down at your built-in navigation screen for more than a quick look. Any messing with settings, finding a new location, or searching with your hands can lead to a distracted driving ticket. You must remain HANDS-FREE while driving.
3- Putting on Makeup/Grooming
Ok, you know if you are guilty of this while you drive. We all know you want to look good and maybe you are running a little late. Just do not do it on the road while you're driving. This is one of the biggest causes of distracted driving in Washington State.
4- Texting on Your Handheld Phone
Even though this is the most well-known reason, I still see people do it every single day. You can spot them easily on the road because they drive like they are drunk. Then you pull up beside them and they are looking at their lap where their phone is. If this is you STOP IT PLEASE!
5- Talking on Your Handheld Phone
This is basically the same as texting when you drive, although they usually are looking forward compared to texting drivers that are looking at their phones. This is the classic case of distracted driving in Washington State.
6- Eating Food
Unless you are one of the X-Men and can lift a burger and fries with your mind, eating while driving can lead to a ticket. Even if your wife is feeding you, you need to look her way to get that burger in your mouth or it could block your view. Either way, it could lead to distracted driving. Remember...NO HANDS!
7- Changing Tuner or Stereo System Settings
This could be a number of things now that most cars have fully digital screens with multiple uses. Messing with settings, changing apps, checking email, or anything where you're looking at the screens in your car for more than a second can lead to distracted driving. Just pull over in a parking lot if it is that important.
8- Drinking from a Cup
Yes, even drinking from a cup while driving can lead to a distracted driving ticket. I am not saying a quick sip will get you busted, but be aware if it is affecting your driving. Constantly holding a big mug or taking long drinks where you can not see in front of you for seconds is more what police will be looking for.
9- Looking Anywhere But the Road
I see people on the road staring at something in the distance or on the side of the road all the time. Staring at a nice car as you drive by or trying to get a look at an accident on the side of the road could lead to a distracted driving ticket.
You can learn much more about how to prevent distracted driving by going to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's official website.
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