Drivers need to put down their phones and drive or risk being fined under new law

July 20, 2017

New Distracted Driving Law

Effective July 23, , Washington drivers will not be permitted to hold or operate hand-held electronic devices while they are driving. Use of devices such as cell phones, tablets, video-games and laptops to text, access information, take pictures and talk, even while stopped in traffic, is prohibited under the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (DUIE) Act. “Hands-free” devices such as mounted dashboard screens and Bluetooth can be used legally, but only with a single touch to start use.

*Exemptions include drivers using a personal electronic device to contact emergency services; certain transit employees and commercial drivers (within the scope of their employment) and drivers operating authorized emergency vehicles.

In the U.S., distracted driving caused 3,477 traffic deaths in 2015, a 9 percent increase from the year before, and “a deadly epidemic,” according to the National Safety Council. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC), 71 percent of distracted drivers are engaging in the most dangerous distraction, using their cell phones behind the wheel. The new law in Washington is part of Target Zero, a statewide initiative to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Washington’s roadways to zero by the year 2030.

Currently, texting or holding a cellphone to the ear while driving carries a fine of $124 in Washington State. Starting July 23, using a hand-held device while driving will be considered a primary offense and law enforcement will be issuing fines $136-$234 to violators. In addition, a citation will be added to your driving record and reported to insurance providers. You can also receive a $99 ticket for other types of distractions such as grooming, smoking, eating, or reading if the activity interferes with safe driving, and you are pulled over for another traffic offense.

The WTSC recommends the following tips for complying with the new law:

  1. Turn off your phone and put it in the glove box
  2. If you’re a passenger, hold the driver’s phone
  3. Don’t text or call a friend or loved one if you know they are driving
  4. If using GPS on your phone, plug in the address before you start the car and use a mounted phone holder
  5. Talk to family members (especially teen drivers) about the risks of cell phone use. Model responsible behavior by not using your phone while in the car

For more information about the new law visit http://www.wadrivetozero.com/distracted-driving.


Protecting Teen Drivers with 5 simple rules

October 16, 2015

5-to-drive-1National Teen Driver Safety Week is Oct. 18-24, and the Washington State Patrol, Washington Traffic Safety Commission, numerous partners around the state, and the Department of Licensing want to encourage parents to use the “5 to Drive” rules to talk to their teen drivers about safety on the road.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teens and young adults. In 2014, there were 530 serious injury crashes and 147 fatalities among Washington drivers between the ages of 16 and 25.

“Young drivers need extra support and parents can help reduce the risk of a crash by insisting teens follow our state’s intermediate driver licensing requirements and insisting on safe driving behavior,” said Pat Kohler, DOL Director. “We’re promoting the ‘5 to Drive’ rules as a simple, common sense way parents can keep teen drivers safe.”

Parents can easily ask their teens to agree to the following “5 to Drive” rules before handing over their car keys:

“Distracted and impaired driving can be prevented,” said Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. “This is an opportunity for parents to act as positive role models and talk to their teenagers about these simple steps to prevent tragedies before they occur.”

For more information about Teen Driver Safety Week and the “5 to Drive” campaign, please visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at: www.safercar.gov/parents. It has detailed information and statistics, and informative videos designed to help save the lives of teen drivers.

The video below is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s YouTube channel. This video shows us why it’s important for parents to talk to their teens about this important issue.


Washington state to be recognized for its motorcycle safety efforts

July 20, 2015
dol.wa.gov

Photo taken at site of a Motorcycle Skills Test.

A lone motorcycle rider is crossing the country to visit all 50 states to spread awareness about the important role motorists play in protecting motorcycle riders.

Nate Hudson first rode a motorcycle at age 16. That was 20 years–and 200,000 miles–ago.

Hudson’s now about to log 17,000 more miles during the course of the “Ride for Awareness” campaign, sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company.

Hudson will stop in Olympia on Thursday, July 23, to talk about motorcycle safety and promote Washington state’s efforts to protect riders on the roads.

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, there 1,934 motorcycle accidents in 2013, resulting in 73 fatalities. The state reports that in 2013 a motorcyclist was in a crash every four hours.

For more information about the Ride for Awareness campaign, visit Allstate.com/ride.

And for regular updates on Hudson’s whereabouts as he travels the country, checkout Instagram.com/BA_Moto.

The Department of Licensing’s video, A Second Look, directly addresses the role of motorists concerning motorcycle safety.

That video appears below.


Don’t Let a DUI Ruin Your Summer Fun

August 12, 2014

Law Enforcement Will be out in Force on DUI Patrols

field--test-1Summer is a time for parties and picnics in the sun, but don’t let a DUI ruin your fun.  Even though Washington legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older, it is still illegal and dangerous to drive under the influence of marijuana or alcohol.

“Specifically, we want people to know that marijuana doubles the risk of a fatal crash,” said Darrin Grondel, Traffic Safety Commission Director.

“With new retail marijuana stores in the mix, we want to remind the public that prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as illegal and recreational drugs, can impair driving ability,” Grondel said.

That is why between August 15 and September 1 extra officers will be on our roads looking for drivers under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs during the annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. Many of these officers have special training to identify when a driver is under the influence of drugs as well as alcohol.

Drivers are encouraged to find alternative transportation or ride with a sober designated driver. “More people may be using marijuana recreationally, but that should never be mixed with driving,” said Lt. Rob Sharpe, Commander of the Washington State Patrol Impaired Driving Section.

Lt. Sharpe noted that law enforcement has been arresting drugged drivers for a long time and will continue to identify and arrest drivers who make the poor choice to drive under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, or other drugs.

Additionally, law enforcement reminds young drivers that impairment laws are much stricter for anyone under the age of 21. A young driver who has any marijuana in their system or a blood alcohol concentration of .02 or higher is considered to be driving under the influence and is at risk for arrest.

One hundred and sixty-six law enforcement agencies in Washington have obtained grants to participate in this Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.  Police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Washington State Patrol will be working together to cover the state in extra DUI enforcement.

All of these extra patrols are part of Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030. For more information, visit www.targetzero.com. Additional information on the Washington Traffic Safety Commission can be found on the website, www.wtsc.wa.gov.

 


Everyone Has a Responsibility to Keep Motorcyclists Safe

June 9, 2014
Be sure to look out for motorcycles.

Be sure to look out for motorcycles.

OLYMPIA—Summer is here and the Department of Licensing, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, and the Department of Transportation are reminding drivers of cars, trucks and buses to look out for, and share the road with, motorcycle riders.

 
To raise awareness about tragic but preventable motorcycle crashes, 17 large road signs are scheduled to be installed this summer in locations across Washington where fatal motorcycle crashes are highest. These signs should remain in place for 10 to 15 years.
 
“Increasing safe motorcycle riding and cooperation among all road users is essential to reaching Washington’s goal of zero traffic deaths by 2030,” Governor Jay Inslee said. “Motorists and motorcyclists are all responsible for making sure everyone arrives home safely.”
 
In Washington, motorcycle deaths are not steadily declining like overall traffic deaths. Motorcycles make up just 4 percent of the registered vehicles on our roads, but account for almost 15 percent of the traffic fatalities (2009-2011 average). Even worse, in 2012, motorcycle fatalities accounted for 19 percent (83 out of 438) of the total traffic fatalities in our state.
 
On a per-vehicle-mile basis, motorcyclists are more than 30 times more likely to die in a crash than occupants of cars, and five times more likely to be injured. Speeding, running off the road, and riding under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are the main contributing factors in these crashes. Motorcyclists should always ride sober and within the posted speed limits, get the required training and endorsement, and wear DOT compliant helmets and protective gear.

New rest area signs help promote motorcycle safety

July 16, 2013

VIDEO

New sign at Maytown rest area

New sign going in at Maytown rest area on May 29th.

New signs aimed at making our roads safer for motorcycles now appear at two rest areas along the busy Interstate 5 corridor between Seattle and Portland.

The signs carry two motorcycle-related safety messages. The top half reads “Look Twice – Save a Life, Watch for Motorcycles.”

The message on the lower half of the sign is directed at motorcyclists, “Ride Safe, Ride Sober, Ride Endorsed.”

The state’s Department of Transportation installed the signs on May 29th at the Maytown and Scatter Creek rest areas south of Olympia.

The signs were paid for with federal motorcycle safety grant funds.

This project was created through a partnership between the state’s Department of Licensing, Traffic Safety Commission, State Patrol and DOT.

The signs are featured in a new video produced by the DOL.


New state program seeks public’s voice on transportation policy and funding issues

September 21, 2012
WSTC

WSTC

The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) recently launched the Voice of Washington State (VOWS) statewide public engagement program, which includes seven regional online discussion forums and an online survey panel. The WSTC is asking state residents to log on to www.voiceofwashingtonstate.org to sign up and share input on how to improve the state’s transportation system.

Individuals can join the VOWS Online Discussion Forums and publicly voice their opinions, post ideas and interact with other citizens in their community. They can also join the VOWS Survey Panel to participate in occasional online surveys. The Commission is using the new online forum technology to empower citizens to become thought-leaders on transportation
.
“Sparking a robust conversation around transportation issues, and collecting survey data that indicates people’s opinions and thoughts on policy and funding approaches, will help decision makers identify possible solutions and investment priorities,” noted Reema Griffith, executive director of the WSTC. “When people share what matters to them when they drive, ride, bike, walk or fly within their communities, their needs can be more effectively addressed.”

The ultimate goal is to gather public input on Washington state transportation policy and funding, and to inform the statewide discussion and decision-making process. Topics for discussion will focus on all things transportation: highways, mass transit, freight and high-speed rail, ferries, barges and aviation. The governor and Legislature will be briefed on the ideas and data generated through the online discussion forums and surveys.

The combination of the online survey and the regional online discussion forums is a new outreach strategy for the WSTC. While the Commission has conducted successful phone and email surveys through the Ferry Riders Opinion Group for a few years, the primary community input tool has been public meetings. The online tools remove the distance and travel barriers inherent to public meetings; this increases the opportunity for everyone – no matter where they live – to participate and share their views.

Details about the VOWS program components are as follows:

  • The VOWS Online Discussion Forums are for publicly sharing, voting and commenting on regional and statewide transportation ideas. Participants can join any or all of the seven regional discussion forums.
  • The VOWS Survey Panel is a way for citizens to communicate their opinions and preferences by taking occasional surveys on transportation policy, funding and tax issues. The result is statistically valid data representing the priorities and opinions of Washington state residents. The input from individuals is anonymous because the survey company does not attach personal information to the survey results. Each participant will receive the surveys through email.

The seven regional discussion forums are: West (Region 1), North Puget Sound (Region 2), Central Puget Sound (Region 3), Southwest (Region 4), Central (Region 5), Northeast (Region 6) and Southeast (Region 7).  Discussions within each forum will focus on both region-specific issues as well as statewide topics, such as roads and pedestrian safety.

Any Washington state resident is eligible to join the VOWS Online Discussion Forums or the VOWS Survey Panel. Registration is limited to one email address per person; submission of the person’s name, email address and county is all that is required to set up a VOWS account for participation.