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Distracted driving facts and penalties in Washington

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2021 | Car Accidents |

Distracted driving caused by technology has been around since Chrysler added a portable record player to vehicles in the 1950s. Since then, modern technology has only increased the risk of distracted driving. Drivers in Seattle, Washington, may face steep fines for distracted driving, so it helps to know some facts.

Distracted driving overview

Statistics show that over 2,800 fatal auto accidents occurred in 2018 from distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is anything that takes the driver’s attention from the road. There are three types of distracted driving:

• Visual, which takes attention from the road, such as adjusting radios
• Cognitive distractions, which take the mind off the road, such as daydreaming
• Manual, which involves taking hands off the wheel

Many states don’t prohibit non-tech distractions, such as eating or grooming, and only give citations if they cause poor driving. It isn’t commonly illegal to eat and drive, but the NHTSA reports that it increases accident risk by 80%.

Mobile device laws and penalties

Some states prohibit any use of a mobile device, even hands-free except in emergencies. A hands-free device means the driver only has to tap or swipe one button to use it. New laws in Washington prohibit drivers from using the phone while driving, even when stopped at traffic lights, except for emergencies.

A first offense for violating mobile phone laws commonly includes a penalty of $136, and subsequent violations within five years impose penalties of $272. Washington imposes a $99 fine on drivers for non-tech distractions in addition to other traffic offenses.

Drivers should avoid distracted driving, but it’s not always possible to avoid other people on the road who make mistakes. Fines and personal lawsuits may follow if a distracted driver causes an accident.