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National Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign Targets Texting While Driving

by on May 5, 2014 » Add the first comment.

Distracted driving accidents in Seattle and across Washington State are increasing, as incidents involving texting at the wheel continue to rise. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that, nationwide, 3,328 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in crashes due to distracted driving in 2012.

In Washington, cell phone use by drivers is at least as high as the national average; in Seattle, the rate is higher. The result is clear: more distracted drivers, more crashes, more people injured and killed.

Distracted driving laws

Washington is among the 43 states that prohibit texting while driving. The state’s law was prompted in part by the February 2010 crash that killed a 19-year-old from Tumwater who was texting while she was driving. The state bars all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel, and forbids all cell phone use by drivers holding learner’s permits or intermediate licenses.

Public awareness campaigns have also focused on preventing texting and driving accidents. As part of the April 2014 National Distracted Driver Awareness Month, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently instituted a combined advertising and law enforcement campaign designed to crack down on distracted driving.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx explained that the first-ever public awareness effort “put[s] distracted drivers on notice: If you’re caught texting while driving, the message you receive won’t be from your cell phone, but from law enforcement – U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”

Despite stronger laws and public awareness campaigns, the risks of texting and driving continue to rise:

  • According to NHTSA, among distracted driving accidents, texting and other cell phone use has accounted for a higher rate of fatalities and serious injuries every year for the past three years.
  • A Centers for Disease Control survey found that 31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported reading or sending text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed.
  • Nearly half of all U.S. high school students aged 16 years or older text or email while driving.
  • A study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that drivers who text while driving are 23.2 times as likely to be involved in a crash than drivers who do not text behind the wheel.
  • According to the Washington State Task Force on Distracted Driving, a driver who is texting is as impaired as a driver with a .16 blood-alcohol level. That’s double the legal limit.
  • Drivers talking on cell phones are half a second slower to hit the brakes in emergencies and miss more than half the visual cues seen by attentive drivers.

Types of distracted driving accidents

Distracted driving, including texting, can cause a wide array of accidents and injuries. A texting driver can lose control of the car and crash. In other cases, a driver looking down to send a text rear-ends the car in front because of a delay in braking and/or a failure to allow adequate space between vehicles.

A distracted driver can miss a traffic signal or stop sign, resulting in an accident. Pedestrians, cyclists, and passengers can be injured or killed when a distracted driver crosses a yellow line, veers into the wrong lane or leaps the curb onto the sidewalk.

Seattle car accident lawyers at Wattel & York can help victims

The car accident attorneys at Wattel and York have helped victims of distracted driving obtain compensation for their losses. We offer free consultations to those injured by texting and driving accidents in the Seattle area and across Washington State. We encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case. You may reach us at 1-877-333-9545.


  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “DOT Launches First Ever National Distracted Driving Enforcement and Advertising Campaign,”
  2. NHTSA, “Research Note: Distracted Driving 2012,” April 2014,
  3. NHTSA, “Research Note: Driver Electronic Device Use 2012,” February 2014,
  4. Washington State Task Force on Distracted Driving, “Text Talk Ticket – Hang Up and Drive,”
  5. Washington State Traffic Commission, “CELL PHONE USE BY MOTOR VEHICLE DRIVERS IN WASHINGTON STATE,” January 2002,
  6. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Driver Distraction in Commercial Vehicle Operation,”
  7. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Distracted Driving,”

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