Senate bill 5656 would have expanded Washington State’s ban on talking and texting to include emailing and searching the web while behind the wheel, also known as distracted driving, has died in Olympia.

According to University of Washington research into distracted driving, over 64-percent of people are texting while driving, with only 4-percent of drivers using hands-free devices.

Let me reiterate that: more than half of the state’s drivers, nearly three-quarters of them, are driving distracted.

Remember that person who was constantly looking down at their lap while heading through traffic, yeah, they were endangering you and everyone around you because that text message or google search couldn’t wait until they got home or parked.

And this is a huge problem. So much so, that the City of Kenmore has been stepping up their plea to drivers to put the phones down and watch out for others on the road.

Credit: City of Kenmore
Credit: City of Kenmore

The goal of Kenmore’s Target Zero initiative is to reduce pedestrian and bicycle fatalities and serious injuries that occur within the city, with the ultimate goal of zero injuries or fatalities by 2025. Part of the effort is enforcing traffic safety laws, including distracted driving laws, for all road users (though I don’t see too many bicyclists texting while biking…).

It’s such an issue in the state, that a recent study from the UW found that more than three of every five drivers is driving while texting or typing on their phone.

While there’s tons of bad news in the distracted driving statistics, there’s some good news too King county’s distracted driving dropped 0.06-percent in 2014, and those who drove with their phone to their ear fell from 3.6-percent to 1.9-percent.

However, distracted driving among teens is skyrocketing. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, six out of 10 teen drivers involved in crashes are driving distracted. The top two distractions being interactions with other passengers and cell phone usage.

So how do we fix this problem? Sometimes it just takes good vigilance.

You'd be surprised how often I see this. Credit: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
You’d be surprised how often I see this. Credit: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Do you see a person talking on a phone or texting while driving? Give them a little beep from the horn and let them know they’re breaking the law.

Don’t want to interact with other cars? Notate the license and car’s make and model, then pull over and call the police. Let them know that you saw distracted driving.

Of course, distracted driving doesn’t just mean calling in when you see illegal in-car cell phone use. Distracted driving comes from looking at something in the car, driving while putting on makeup or shaving, or even doing one’s hair. (Yes, I’ve seen all these on my commute and then some).

Until then, ensure that those you love don’t do these things. Teach your children to put the phone away when in the car or tell the wife/husband/significant other that you won’t be replying to their messages while behind the wheel.

Show personal responsibility and hope that others will catch on, too.

Also, contact your state representative next time bills like this come through and let them know how you feel about creating a safer driving environment for everyone.

For more information about distracted driving, please visit, www.aaafoundation.org

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Deanna Isaacs the owner, editor-in-chief and lead journalist at The Auto Reporter. She graduated from the University of Washington's Communication department in 2014 with a BA in Journalism. She enjoys sports cars, working on her classic two-seaters and long drives where she can annoy the husband. You can reach Deanna Isaacs using the Contact Us form: https://www.theautoreporter.com/contact/.