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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Find reasons to be attentive

I’ve heard much talk about the new distracted driving rules in Washington. Sadly, much of that talk reflects an unwelcome attitude to the revised law.  Many complain that the new list of distractions labeled “secondary offenses” is merely a step toward allowing law officers to pull over and cite drivers for things like having a sip of water or talking to a passenger.

I would label such apprehensions as paranoid conspiracy theories.  I believe that the intent of the law is to bring attention to the serious topic of distraction as an unsafe driver shortcoming.  Rather than complaining that the law revision is an assault on your rights, it would be better to look for ways to avoid distraction and find reasons to be attentive while driving.

If you are driving properly, you won’t be noticed for any of those secondary offenses.  If you are driving properly, you are not likely distracted.  Humans are not great multitaskers, but most of us can take a drink of water and drive just fine.  However, if you weave about your lane while taking a drink, your potential distraction might catch the attention of police.  The new law simply puts more “teeth” into citing the possible source of your driving “foul-up.”

There are many sound reasons to be vigilant while at the wheel.  For me, a lifelong obsession with motor vehicles, a love of operating machinery and a quest for survival all make the list. 

Whatever your reasons may be for doing so, driving with an ever-vigilant approach gives you the best chance of success on the road.  While accumulating over a million miles of driving, I have repeatedly experienced the best reason for maintaining a sharp watch:  accident avoidance.  Have you avoided an accident lately?  Hopefully, you have.

Accident avoidance should be a sufficient reason for distraction avoidance.  Self-preservation and the safety of others should be a part of everyone’s makeup.

Missing accidents is a very satisfying thing.  You avoid personal injury, damage to your vehicle and don’t hurt others — worthy payments for being alert.  Much of the time, my full-time attentiveness goes unrewarded because vehicles around me are driven well — that bubble always bursts, though, when a vehicle operated by an imprecision driver tries to cause a wreck.  Then, accident avoidance is a welcome and wonderful reward for my vigilance.

Along with general police presence, their emphasis patrols should also motivate your driving alertness.  There are at least two reasons for this:  First, if you screw up, your chances of being cited for it are greater with additional cruisers on the road.  Second, the extra trooper emphasis is employed due to the growing numbers of drivers suffering from rage, distraction, or drunkenness — you need heightened alertness to accommodate their mistakes.

I really don’t think that lawmakers are colluding with law enforcement and tax revenue agencies in a conspiracy to levy fines and issues tickets for frivolous reasons.  Instead, I think they are taking a multi-pronged approach using education and enforcement to bring attention to the growing problem of driver distraction. 

Drivers should simply devote full attention to driving, while knowing and following the rules of the road.  I believe that too many don’t take their driving endeavor seriously enough.  Driving is one of the biggest dangers we engage in that we have control over — please pay attention while doing it.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at