Is Washington’s distracted driving law making a difference?
Over the summer, Washington implemented tougher distracted driving laws months earlier than expected. Under the new law, drivers can be pulled over and ticketed for holding any kind of electronic device at the wheel. If you break any other traffic laws, and the officer who pulls you over discovers you are distracted by anything else – like food, or putting on makeup – it will increase your ticket.
Because Governor Jay Inslee opted to veto a proposed waiting period and implement the law sooner than expected, most law enforcement agencies across the state opted for a grace period, during which officers would issue warnings instead of tickets.
PEMCO Insurance says so far, it's hard to tell if the new law is saving lives on Washington roads. Even though distracted driving in Washington state is now reported to insurance companies, just like speeding, that only shows the number of people who were caught before a deadly crash. We do know that the latest numbers from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission are from 2015, and that data shows distracted driving deaths on the rise.
PEMCO Insurance polled drivers, and found that about half of those who responded admitted to texting and driving when it seems "safe" to do so. Analysts say that could be because it's still considered culturally acceptable to text and drive, even though some research shows it may be even more dangerous than driving drunk.