Traffic Safety

Distracted
Driving

Traffic Safety

Don't Drive Intexticated

Just like drinking and driving, using a cell phone or other personal electronic device while behind the wheel is dangerous. The consequences are the same: deaths and injuries on our roadways. You can help reduce the number of these preventable tragedies by putting down your phone – because lives depend on it!

 

Distracted driving kills an average of 9 people and injures over 1,000 every day in America.*

A sobering message from AAA
 

Washington State’s Distracted Driving Law

When it comes to distracted driving, Washington State has one of the most restrictive laws in the nation. On July 23, 2017, Washington banned drivers from using all handheld personal devices while behind the wheel, even when they stop at a traffic sign/signal or are stuck in slow-moving traffic.

IT IS AGAINST THE LAW TO:

  • Hold a cell phone or electronic device in your hand
  • Use your fingers to type, send, read, view, access, web browse, transmit, save or retrieve email, text messages, instant messages, photos or other data
  • Watch a video

EXCEPTIONS:

  • To contact emergency services
  • You can use a single finger-swipe or button push to activate, deactivate or initiate a function
  • When your vehicle is off the road, in park

WHAT IS LEGAL

  • Hands-free use of personal electronic devices is legal, however using your device hands-free is no safer than using it hand-held.**

PENALTIES

  • First ticket = $136 fine AND the ticket is reported to your insurance company
  • Second ticket within five years = Fine doubles

DANGEROUSLY DISTRACTED

  • Fine of $99
  • Secondary offense – handed out when you are pulled over for committing a traffic violation, such as crossing the centerline or following too close, while you were distracted by any non-driving activity.
  • Examples include eating, spilling your coffee, holding a pet on your lap, putting on makeup, shaving.

Car swerving
 
5 seconds of reading an email is like driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded

7 Ways to Prevent Driving Intexticated

  1. Put it away

    Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.

  2. Know where you’re going

    If using a navigation system, program your destination before driving.

  3. Pull over

    If you have to call or text while driving, pull off the road safely and stop first.

  4. Ask passengers for help

    If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.

  5. Be a good passenger

    Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.

  6. Don’t be a distraction

    Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.

  7. Everyone should prevent being intexticated

    Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.


Distracted Mom at the wheel
 
Taking your eyes off the road for just 2 seconds doubles your chance of being involved in a crash

AAA Washington Research Reveals Driver Behavior Under New Distraction Law

To recognize the one-year anniversary of Washington’s new Driving Under the Influence of Electronics or DUI-E law, AAA commissioned an independent study to find out what drivers know about the law, if they’re following it and what might change their mostly illegal and dangerous behaviors.

Of the more than 1,100 Washington drivers surveyed:

  • 90% say they are aware of Washington’s DUI-E law, its restrictions and penalties
  • 31% say they DO NOT use electronic devices while driving, listing their safety and the safety of their passengers as the primary motivator for putting down their phones

That means 69% percent of Washington drivers are still using their phones behind the wheel in mostly illegal and dangerous ways. The most common tasks are listed below. The AAA research also revealed that with few exceptions, the group most likely to break the law and engage in risky behavior is parents with children living at home.

Most Common Distractions – At least once in the past 30 days

Distraction All Drivers Parents
Set navigation while driving (illegal) 82% 87%
Answer a call with hands-free tech (legal but dangerous) 71% 80%
Read a text message, hand-held (illegal) 68% 74%
Make a phone call with hands-free tech (legal but dangerous) 64% 75%
Answer a call, hand-held (illegal) 60% 68%
Sent text messages, hand-held (illegal) 58% 68%
Made a call, hand-held (illegal) 52% 66%

Washington drivers are least likely to post to or read social media, look at websites or take a photo while driving. Of those who do, parents with children living at home are again engaging in this risky behavior more than all drivers combined.

Two of the most common tasks listed above, using hands-free technology to answer and make calls, are not banned by Washington’s DUI-E law. But the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has conducted research demonstrating hands-free tasks carry nearly the same cognitive workload as the hand-held tasks, making them distracting and unsafe to do while driving.

More Results


You Don't Do That: Man holding a beer while driving
So Why Do This? Man texting while driving

Teen Drivers and Distraction

Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous temptations for newly licensed teen drivers.

Technology

While parents with children still living at home were found to be the group of drivers most distracted by technology in AAA Washington’s 2018 research, the 16- and 17-year old drivers in the survey admitted to engaging in the same unsafe behaviors at least once in the past 30 days.

  • 96% set navigation program while driving

  • 86% read a text

  • 82% answered a call

  • 78% sent a text

Another 78 percent of teen drivers reported answering a call using a hands-free system. Washington law bans any use of a cell phone or wireless communication device, INCLUDING hands-free options, while driving with a driving permit or intermediate license.

Passenger Distraction

Despite those alarming numbers, the greatest risk to teen drivers is not technology but the distractions caused when driving with friends. New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that when a teen driver has only teen passengers in a vehicle, the fatality rate for all people involved in a crash increased 51 percent.

Replace those teen passengers with people who are 35 years or older and the overall fatality rates in crashes decreased eight percent.

The increased risks underline just how important it is that parents get involved in their teen driver’s training, set rules and enforce them, and spend lots of hours with them behind the wheel, even more than is required by law.

AAA offers the following tips to parents of teen drivers, starting with supervised training – parents in the passenger seat acting as coach.

  • Require that teens log at least 100 hours of supervised practice before driving solo
  • Begin by practicing driving in low-risk situations, gradually moving to more complex situations: highways, nighttime, driving in the rain, and on and around challenging roadways.
  • Allow no more than one non-family passenger under the age of 20 during the first six months of driving
  • Use slightly different routes each practice session
  • Practice adjusting speed based on visibility, traffic and different weather conditions

Resources

Find more coaching tips and teen driving resources at TeenDriving.AAA.com.

 

*Average daily claims from annual 2015 data collected by NHTSA. Copyright © 2018 Auto Club Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.
**According to AAA research, the use of hands-free and voice-activated systems is just as distracting as a hand-held cell phone.