As personal injury attorneys, we're familiar with Washington's prohibition on driving while using electronic devices, RCW 46.61.672. Police officers are diligently seeking out drivers who are texting because they know that 1 in 4 car accidents are caused by cell phones.
Texting While Driving Isn't The Only Distraction
Although cell phone use is extremely dangerous we often forget its close neighbor, RCW 46.61.673, acts as a catch-all for other distracted driving behavior and would seem to cast a broader net.
RCW 46.61.673, is a statutory provision that makes it an infraction to “drive dangerously distracted”, which is defined as engaging in an activity not related to the actual operation of the vehicle, in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle.
Examples of Driving Dangerously Distracted
We often hear about the dangers of texting while driving. Texting is one of the leading causes of accidents. However, it can be even more dangerous when it is also paired with one of the many other secondary distractions such as;
- Doing makeup
- Picking something off the floor
- Digging through purse
- Fixing the mirrors
- Continuously changing the radio to find "the perfect station."
- Fixing hair
Driving Distractions Are Secondary Violations
The section makes it clear that you can only be busted for this infraction as a secondary violation, meaning you were pulled over for something else and the officer happened to observe this other behavior. In other words,
It's not hard to imagine a scenario where eating a messy sandwich leads to inattentive speeding or swerving over into the bike lane.
Avoiding distractions while driving isn't just to try to avoid a ticket. The point of removing distraction is to remain vigilant and safe at the wheel by only focusing on driving. As attorneys, we see very often that even momentary distractions can have life-altering consequences for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and others using our roadways.
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