As a road user, you’re always careful to conduct yourself with the same safety and courtesy that you’d expect from other road users. The trouble is that modern living seems Hell bent on forcing us to break the rules. It seems like we’re in an increasingly massive hurry and yet always seem to be running late. With our attention pulled in so many directions even something as simple and intuitive as driving with due care and attention can seem like a tall order. We live in an era of electronic distraction where a never-ending stream of data screams at us from a number of handheld devices. From news headlines to sports updates, movie reviews and the ubiquity of our social media feeds, our digital devices bring (literally) a world of information to our fingertips.
All that data can be intoxicating. It can compromise our judgment, impede our decision making and cause us to be needlessly cavalier and take avoidable risks in ways that can endanger ourselves and others. The parallel with drunk driving speaks for itself. And just as you can get help with a lawsuit when injured by a drunk driver, so too should you be able to seek justice against a driver who is driving under the influence of electronic distraction. Which is why last year the EDUI (Driving Under The Influence Of Electronics) law.
Washington Pilots The EDUI Law
Last July the law was brought into effect to curb the increasingly common incidents on the road caused by distracted drivers. While most states have pretty comprehensive legislation in place to protect road users from drunk drivers, the uneven legislation when it comes to driving while distracted by electronic devices necessitated the law which empowered police to pull over drivers seen holding or using an electronic device. Drivers caught doing so would face an on the spot fine of $136 which would rise to $234 if the offense was repeated.
One Year Later
So, one year later what’s changed? This article from the Kirkland Reporter demonstrates that like any addiction, letting go of our electronic devices can be a tough habit to klick. Distracted driving in the area is still responsible for more collisions than driving under the influence of alcohol and police officers admit to being frustrated that they find themselves giving out multiple fines to the same people. Nonetheless, distracted driving incidents seem to be taking a downward turn.
What You Can Do
But while legislation can lead us in the right direction, we must all take individual responsibility for one another’s safety on the road. This means ensuring that we only use our devices when stationary (using them to contact emergency services is still allowed). The good news is that with more and more vehicles using safer infotainment systems to access digital device functions in a car safe way, the future is looking bright for drivers. Cell phone manufacturers are getting in on the act, too. Newer versions of iOS, for example, will limit function if they detect a velocity that indicates that the user is driving.
However, more than half of surveyed drivers indicated that they would stop using their cell phone or other device if told to do so by a passenger. Even when we’re not at the wheel, we should encourage others to do the right thing!