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WA Traffic Officials: Distracted Driving Rates Take A Dive

Recently, Washington traffic officials reported an increase in deadly traffic accidents across the state. However, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission’s (WTSC) Annual Distracted Driving Observation Survey, distracted driving rates are on a downward trend, surprising officials and giving them hope for the future of road safety.  

Falling Distracted Driving Rate Is ‘Something To Cheer’ 

The survey shows that in 2021, Washington’s distracted driving rate fell to 6.9%. In 2020, officials remarked, the distracted driving rate was at 9.4%. 

This welcome news comes as we observe April as the Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a time often used by traffic authorities to conduct emphasis patrols and awareness campaigns. 

As law enforcement focuses on spotting motorists who are ignoring the state’s distracted driving law, which prohibits hand-held cell phone use while driving, stopped in traffic, or while at a stop light, officials say they are optimistic about the future.

“The decline in distracted drivers gives us something to cheer as we kick-off distracted driving month,” said Erika Mascorro, WTSC Program Manager for Distracted Driving. “Seeing more people focused on driving is motivation to get all of us off the phone when we’re on the road.”

After a considerable increase in 2020 when compared to 2019, the distracted driving rate is finally back to its pre-pandemic level. Despite the encouraging numbers, officials told news outlets, we should keep it in mind that distraction is not entirely gone just yet. 

With the use of smartphones being the most common source of distraction among Washington drivers, officials say that drivers navigating city streets are more likely to be distracted than on state routes, and are urging motorists to remember that the law prohibits this behavior. 

Since the legislature passed the distracted driving legislation in 2017, the state registered a 40% decrease in deadly accidents caused by distracted drivers. Unfortunately, many are still reluctant to follow the law and drive safely, putting themselves and others in danger. 

Officials share Recommendations To Help Fight Distracted Driving

While urging drivers to put their phone down while driving, Mascorro offered a few tips on how to avoid distractions. 

“Make focused driving a habit by putting your phone in the glove box, by taking 10 minutes before you drive to catch up on phone calls or text messages, or by setting up music or navigation before you drive. We can refuse, like most Washington drivers, to let our phones endanger our lives.”

If you’re driving in Washington state this month, remember that April is the month dedicated to helping prevent distracted driving accidents. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel and help avoid crashes.  

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