Take a drive with me down Rainier Ave. S., deemed years ago Seattle’s “most dangerous street,” and you’ll see many hazards that, encountered by a distracted driver, could easily turn into a tragedy. In just the past two days I’ve witnessed so many accidents-waiting-to-happen: two people crossed the street at random places with multiple cars zooming up on them; a U-Haul backed carelessly out of a driveway onto Rainier, thick with two lanes of traffic; two cars stopped suddenly in the middle of the road, causing surprised drivers to swerve to miss them; vehicles didn’t go when the light turned green and others were barreling toward them from behind.
In a previous blog post we mentioned that following the 2-second rule can be life-saving. It’s easy to imagine, as I’m driving on Rainier Ave. S., in the stretch from Hillman City to Renton, that looking away for even three seconds could cause a nightmarish problem. At any time of day here, as well as on any other Seattle road and highways, a driver glancing down at her phone to answer a text could crash her car, injure herself or another driver, or strike a pedestrian. That’s scary stuff.
8.5% of total fatalities on the roadways are caused by distracted drivers. That’s nine people killed a day and 1,000 injured, according to statistics gathered by the Federal Communications Commission. Imagine that: nine lives lost, and a thousand others who now have to deal with painful and expensive injuries, all due to something we drivers can prevent.
To try to curb this frightening statistic, in 2007 Washington State passed the first law that outlawed texting while driving, and in 2017 became the first state to ban all hand-held devices. Still, many of us continue to use our devices, perhaps considering ourselves such good drivers that we can handle the occasional glance at our phones. If the safety factor doesn’t convince you to keep your eyes on the road, consider that getting caught comes with other costs, too. According to The Simple Dollar, “Distracted driving incidents can … increase your insurance rates by as much as 41%.” Distracted driving-which includes texting, scrolling through any hand-held device, and even eating and applying make-up-is a danger to our well-being and our bank accounts.
Sometimes ignorance is bliss, and sometimes it is deadly. I admit that I, too, have not been a perfectly attentive driver at all times. The more I know about the law and about the dangers, though, the more careful I am. I don’t want to be one of the statistics, and I’m sure you don’t, either. Let’s all decide to save our texts for later, download apps to help with that if needed, and arrive in a better place mentally and physically to take care of the business we put off while in the car. We’re worth it.