Thursday, June 5, 2008

Distracted driving and cell phone use...

Driving is probably the riskiest activity any of us will do during our daily lives. At the same time it is probably the easiest thing to do that you could get distracted from. We have all seen that person who is driving down the road reading a book, putting on makeup, or talking on a cellphone. It has been estimated that 1 of every 4 crashes each day is caused by distracted driving.

As you may or may not have heard starting July 1, talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving will be illegal without a headset or hands-free device. You won't be pulled over solely because you are driving while talking on a cell phone, but you can be pulled over if you are swerving or speeding. If you are pulled over the ticket is $124 (its the same for texting while driving).

You can still use your cell phone if you talk using hands-free device such as a Bluetooth or wired headset.

We don't have anything to do with the enforcement of this, that's up to the Washington State Patrol. But we will be watching to see how congestion is affected by this new law. Anytime there is a collision on the roadway traffic is significantly affected.

Here are some other useful tips to avoid distracted driving
  • Think before you drive. Do you need a drink of water? Need to make a phone call? Need to move items off the seat into the floor so they don't slide around?

  • Keep watch around the vehicle by shifting your eyes every few seconds and checking the rear-view mirror every five to eight seconds. This forces your brain to stay focused on driving.

  • When approaching construction zones or crashes; be the one person who slows down.

  • Watch for workers, changing traffic patterns and approaching emergency vehicles.

  • Drive defensively. Know where your “out” is at all times and be prepared to use it.

  • Signal your intentions early enough to give others more time to react to your move.

  • Make sure the motorists around you are aware of you.

  • The most important tip for safe driving is to simply be aware that you are in control of your own safety, and that of your passengers, and do your part to be sure your trip is the best possible.

  • Above all, be careful out there!

How will this new law affect your driving? Will you wait to reach your destination, will you take the nearest exit? Will you buy that bluetooth headset?


Anonymous said...

Excellent commentary... However, will those who need to read it most actually do so? :-)

Anonymous said...

They should pull you over if you are driving too slow, like 45 MPH in a 60 MPH, I see this all the time on the Seattle area freeways, then I pass the person and look over and sure enough they are talking on the cell phone!!

Anonymous said...

First, Let me say I drive all over this state and some in OR and ID. These are the most common things I see:
1. People on cell phones. They slow people down and cause a lot of near misses being distracted.
2. People who plain just don't know how to drive, or how to drive in the conditions whether it be rain, snow, high winds or whatever.
3. People in a hurry and not being courtious to other drivers. Speeders who think "Its all about me!"
4. People who stop traffic to go all the way across to the carpool lanes. This really slows down traffic, 405 is real bad for that.
5. People with animals in the car, worse if its on their lap. This should be outlawed. Leave your pets at home! (unless taking them to the vet.)

Spokane Ed said...

The problem with the cell phone restriction is that it ignores many of the other distractions...what's next...restricting the use of car radio's, can't use the CD player, how about having a drink of coffee while driving or catching some lunch on the way...and how about those killer up while driving or using your ashtray (you have to take your attention off the road to put the butt out). We are being over reactive on too many things...why not make it that if you are driving while distracted, and cause an accident, then you get hit with a hefty fine (over a grand) and your insurance company doesn't have to pay for your vehicle damage...only damage to the other vehicle plus a settlement for your distraction paid to the injured driver.

Anonymous said...

While i agree it is a good idea to drive with a hands free device for your phone, where is one to get this? All headsets cost money, what about people that can not afford the headsets, what are they to do?? Just a thought

Anonymous said...

There should be a fine for driving with any distraction, not just cell phones. Or, drivers should learn to drive with distractions without causing accidents or slowing down so much it irritates other drivers. Drivers are distracted by so many things, including the radio or mp3 player, cell phones, or even just chatting with someone in their passenger seat. Drivers need to learn that driving requires attention to the road and others around you. If you can't drive safely with a distraction, you should be riding the bus. With all the traffic in the Seattle area, everyone should try riding the bus. You can talk on your phone, play with your mp3 player, read a book, just about do anything without endangering or irritating others on the road.

Anonymous said...

Driving and using a hands-free device is the law. Are people's lives so unimportant to the masses that they forget the reason that the legislature made the law. Because people died on the highways because proof positive the driver was distracted by their cell phone. How many radios, mp3, cup of coffee and eating sandwiches killed. Grow up become accountible and save lives. Use hands-free devices period. It's a small price to pay to save a life.

Anonymous said...

it's not the TALKING on the phone that is DIALING and TEXTING. We are all pretty much familiar with the location of the car radio and volume and channel changer to where we don't have to LOOK at the radio. This is not the case with a cell. You have to look at it to see if you have the correct contact name or if you have dialed the right numbers. Hands free devices won't change that.

The Sharp One said...

Hopefully, when I notice unattentive driving now, I will not have to say, "yup, cell phone".

It should also reduce wear and tear on body parts, as I will no longer have the irresistable urge to remove the phone from the ear, and insert into the nether regions.

Geezer rests.

Anonymous said...

That's right, you'll have to still hit a button to call someone on the bluetooth headsets. It's just the same as using voicedail on just your phone alone. I believe why they're pushing the handsfree is so that hand you would normally have holding your phone is free to be on the wheel, although how many people actually drive with both hands on the wheel. As other people have stated, it is silly that they're pin pointing the distractions to cell phones, except for the fact that some people do drive way to slow when talking, those people shouldn't drive and talk. (I know a few people that have wrecked playing with their cd players.) And to that person that said legislature made this law to save lives, personally I think that's bogus! More accidents are caused by drunk drivers!! Maybe they should focus more on those drivers. Just because a law is made doesn't mean that it's correct. I suppose you'd want our gun rights taken away also? People just need to learn how to be more responible in every aspect of driving.

Anonymous said...

For those that think it is just the act of dialing and not the conversation that is distracting I think you need to check again.

Talking entails thinking and thinking about anything besides driving while operating the vehicle is dangerous, this includes getting into a conversation with passengers.

To those that complain about the cost of bluetooth just do as I do, show some restraint and do not use the phone while driving.

Anonymous said...

Talking on a cell phone while driving is dangerous. Period. While the bluetooth devices help a lot, it is not much. The problem with making bluetooth illegal is enforcement. How is a police officer supposed to know when you are using a bluetooth or if it is just in your ear? He can see if you have the cell phone up to your ear. Also note: The law actually says a handheld wireless communication device. This includes things like the radios on Metro (Seattle) transit. Police, fire, aid, and tow truck drivers are exempt, but not bus drivers!. I know, I am a driver for Metro Transit. It used to be that when I saw a stupid or crazy driver that I thought they were drunk. Now it is because they are on the cell phone. I am right about 95% of the time.

Past Expiry said...

Here's a cartoon on distracted driving that you might like...

Anonymous said...

This law will do nothing, none of you know how to drive in this state. Pathetic!

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