In recent years, Washington state has been taking a stand against distracted driving behaviors. In fact, the state was the first in the nation to ban texting while driving approximately ten years ago, and new legislation passed in 2017 took additional steps to crack down on using electronic devices of any kind while behind the wheel. However, even though there are clear penalties for those caught using their phones while driving, this behavior still happens. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident and you suspect that the other driver was distracted, make sure you work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you on how to best proceed.
What the Statistics Say
By now, most people understand the risks of texting or using an electronic device while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 400,000 people were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2018. According to the Washington State Strategic Highway Safety Plan 2019, distracted driving remains the second most risky driving behavior, just behind intoxication. Statewide, a total of 502 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver between 2015 and 2017.
New Laws Show Promise in Discouraging Distracted Driving Behaviors
The updated legislation in Washington is designed to reduce the number of people who drive while texting or using an electronic device. Under state code 46.61.672, anyone who uses a personal electronic device while driving on a public highway has committed a traffic infraction and will be obligated to pay a fine of up to $250 for a first offense. It’s worth noting that the term “driving” applies even when the vehicle is stopped at a traffic light or stuck in traffic, so the penalty still applies in these circumstances. Although not much time has passed since these revised laws went into effect, there has been a slight decrease in the number of distracted driving behaviors. However, even though this number is falling, there are still drivers on the road who engage in risky or distracted driving behaviors.
What to Do If You’re Injured By a Distracted Driver
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident and you have reason to believe that the other driver was distracted, make sure you contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to report your suspicions. After you’ve sought medical attention for your injuries and reported the incident to local authorities and your insurance company, talk to your attorney about the specifics of the accident. Your attorney will create a strategy for building a strong personal injury claim, and they’ll determine how to effectively gather evidence to show that the other driver’s distracted behavior contributed to—or caused—the accident. Get started as soon as possible so that you can focus on your physical recovery.
At Henderson Taylor Law Firm, we are committed to understanding the whole story. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident in the Vancouver, Camas, or Battle Ground area, call (360) 737-1478 today to get started with an empathetic and experienced attorney.