Underestimated Distractions: Texting Isn't The Only Danger

Posted by Scott A. Staples | May 21, 2021 | 0 Comments


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
  • Eating
  • 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.


About the Author

Scott A. Staples

Scott Staples came on board in 2006 as a clerk during law school, and joined the firm as an associate attorney in 2007. He was made a shareholder in the firm in 2010. Scott graduated, cum laude, from Washington State University Vancouver with a BA in English, and obtained his Juris Doctorate from Willamette University College of Law, with cum laude honors there as well. He has successfully represented clients in a variety of different types of injury cases, including auto collisions, premises liability, animal attacks, watercraft accidents, and construction site injuries. He has appeared, and won, before the Washington State Supreme Court (Weismann v. Safeco, 2012). Scott has volunteered time for the past several years at the Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Housing Justice Project. He has previously served on the new member and membership committees for the Washington State Association for Justice (WSAJ), and has acted as chair and co-chair of the WSAJ Clark County Roundtable. He is a member of the Washington and Oregon State Bar Associations, WSAJ and OTLA (state trial lawyer organizations), and is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Washington and Oregon. Scott was born and raised in Vancouver, attending Vancouver public schools and graduating from Hudson's Bay High School. He enjoys playing recreational basketball and softball, skiing, and spending time with his wife and three children.


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