The first 70-degree days of 2018 occurred here last week. Sadly, it also marked a pedestrian death by way of automobile. The two events are somewhat related, with days warmer days putting people in peril as more of them venture out among motor vehicles.
Worse, the spring-leading-to-summer pedestrian makeup increasingly contains a mix of kids and animals with behavior unpredictable to motorists. Adding to their potential woes, many pedestrians are staring at smartphones, leaving it up to motorists to take up the slack borne of such inattention.
Topping it all off, general traffic increases with the warmer weather as drivers who avoid winter roads emerge along with classic vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles that were stored for winter.
This elevated roadway population of varied mix demands heightened attention levels from drivers to maintain safety. As I’ve previously inferred, a car or truck is always “carrying the bigger stick” in matchups with motorcycles, bicycles, people and pets. It follows that regardless of the at-fault party, those “carrying the smaller stick” will be harmed the most. I don’t think any responsible drivers want to carry the lifelong burden of having maimed or killed anyone, so the best defense is to drive defensively.
Driving defensively requires driving for both you and for others. It means anticipating neglectful actions of others and accommodating them before emergencies occur rather than being surprised by the actual emergency.
All of this relates to the importance of avoiding distraction while driving. Remember the eDUI ticket program enacted in Washington last year? The grace period following that enactment has now expired, and the enforcement of the law is now enforceable.
The intent of the law is to curb the most common distraction: use of electronic devices while driving. Attached to the law, which names hand-held phone/device use as a primary infraction, is a provision allowing other observed distractions like eating, drinking, grooming, reading to be added to the citation while pulled over for a primary offense.
Washington is serious about driver distraction, prohibiting hand-held phone use even when sitting at a stop light. Cited infractions will cost drivers $134 for a first offense and $234 for a second one.
Police submit eDUI infractions, which go on your motor vehicle report (MVR). The Department of Licensing shares MVRs with insurance companies, which can use records of traffic accidents and violations to help calculate insurance rates.
Most insurance companies deem eDUI tickets to be major violations — more serious than speeding or running a red light. Regardless, it’s best to leave the phone alone while driving. Its use is not worth compromising your safety or that of others — or raising your insurance rates.
New polls show that 96% of drivers believe it is unsafe to use phones while driving, yet the same number leave their phones on anyway. 59% of those polled say they use their phones when stopped at a red light. 51% make phone calls, 34% send texts and 12% look at social media while behind the wheel. All the more reason for the rest of us to refrain from those practices!
91% said they would put their phone down if they got a ticket. How about doing that anyway?
Enjoy the warm weather and added driving opportunities that come with the advent of spring and summer, but please avoid distraction while adding an extra degree of vigilance for pedestrians and other vulnerable entities.
Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at email@example.com.