Distracted Driving Accidents in Washington State

We all know that distractions and driving don’t mix. Here in Washington, we’ve enacted laws to curb cell phone usage while driving, among other things. Yet, collisions continue to happen. In our brief post today, we’ll answer the question “how many accidents are caused by distracted driving in Washington?” 

Distracted Driving Statistics 2017-2021

For our post, we pulled data from the WSDOT Crash Portal. 

Here are some highlights. For the years 2017-2021:

  • There were a total of 150,867 distracted driving related crashes.
  • An average of around 30,000 distracted driving related crashes each of these 5 years. 
  • A total of 550 fatalities caused by distracted drivers. 
  • A total of 2,258 serious injuries caused by distracted drivers. 
Consider the impact each of these crashes must have had, big or small. Even a minor crash is likely to have caused property damage, financial troubles, and family stress. At the most extreme end, each fatality impacts a circle of family and friends in incalculable ways. 

The Impact of COVID-19

It’s not surprising that the number of crashes dropped during the height of the COVID-19 years (2020 and 2021). Consider there were 35,767 distracted driving crashes in 2019 and only 16,625 in 2020. 

However, the number of fatalities and serious injuries did not decline as substantially. 

One trend noted by law enforcement was that the relatively traffic-free roads during COVID encouraged some drivers to speed. And not just a few miles over the limit, either. There was a trend of drivers being pulled over going 100 mph or more!  

While it’s difficult to say with certainty why there wasn’t a huge drop in fatalities and serious injuries, increased speed is one possible theory.

Preventing Distracted Driving 

Remember that owning a Washington driver’s license comes with a high level of responsibility. It’s up to all of us to keep our roads safe. 

Here are a few tips for reducing the chances of a distracted driving related accident: 

  • Put the phone down. I think we all know by now to avoid using our phones will we drive. Yet, studies show that most of us do it anyways. Use your phone before you leave the driveway if you must and then stow it away until you arrive at your destination. 
  • Keep a clean car. Trash, food, and clutter can all pose distractions. Regularly clean out and tidy up your car. 
  • Mind passenger conversations. Avoid having heated conversations while driving. Teach your kids to mind their voice levels when they’re in the car. 
  • Avoid daydreaming. Did you know your own thoughts can be distracting? It’s easy to get so lost on our thoughts of a problem we’re trying to solve or dreaming about an upcoming vacation that we miss a red light. 

Bottom line: when you’re in the car, you need to do all you can to stay focused. 

We hope you stay safe on the roads!
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Angela Russell
Articles: 73

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