Law

Red Right Turn Arrows in Seattle Confuse Everyone

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The city of Seattle is notoriously bad at all things related to traffic. There is so much poor planning on the part of the department of transportation in Seattle and Washington that it is no surprise that we are one of the worst cities for traffic in the US, number 6 in the US according to US News in 2015.

What adds to the traffic is poor street sign design and implementation. Most people see red turn arrows and think that they cannot turn in the direction of the arrow when it is red. I was just sitting behind someone in traffic today that had a red turn arrow and mistakenly believed that they could not turn right on red. I let her know that she could turn right by honking my horn a couple of times, the polite thing to do, right?

Contrary to common belief, you can turn right on a red turn arrow. A red turn arrow is treated like a normal red light stop light. You must stop at the light and then proceed to make your turn if traffic is clear.

The only time where you are not allowed to turn right on a red turn arrow is when there is another sign that states no turn on red.

Here is the law in Washington State on red turn arrows:

Washington State RCW 46.61.055(3)(c)​ Vehicle operators facing a steady red arrow indication may not enter the intersection control area to make the movement indicated by such arrow, and unless entering the intersection control area to make such other movement as is permitted by other indications shown at the same time, shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering a crosswalk on the near side of the intersection control area, or if none, then before entering the intersection control area and shall remain standing until an indication to make the movement indicated by such arrow is shown.However, the vehicle operators facing a steady red arrow indication may, after stopping proceed to make a right turn from a one-way or two-way street into a two-way street or into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the right turn; or a left turn from a one-way street or two-way street into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the left turn; unless a sign posted by competent authority prohibits such movement. Vehicle operators planning to make such turns shall remain stopped to allow other vehicles lawfully within or approaching the intersection control area to complete their movements. Vehicle operators planning to make such turns shall also remain stopped for pedestrians who are lawfully within the intersection control area as required by RCW 46.61.235(1).

Why then put a red turn signal stop sign if it acts exactly like another red light? To confuse people? I think the reasoning behind placing in the red turn arrow was to let people know you can only turn right in this lane. However, this just confuses people more and causes traffic to bottle neck up.

If you are injured in a car accident by someone turning into your car, you need a Seattle personal injury lawyer. Call today for a free consultation to see how a car accident injury lawyer can help you out. (206) 850-6716

Andrew CherinRed Right Turn Arrows in Seattle Confuse Everyone
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Seattle School Zone Times and Safety

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There is not greater cause than to keep our children safe as they learn to integrate into our society and learn the dangers of society. School zone safety mechanisms are such causes.

We make 20 mph speed limits in school zones so people can safely stop when an unexpected child runs out into the middle of the street because they were chasing a ball, running to their parents, or playing tag. Children in grade school, especially, are learning basic life skills and may not be aware of the true dangers of walking or running around busy school streets.

Seattle has so many school zones that you may miss them if you are driving in an area that you are not familiar with. This could lead to a $234 ticket by camera or by police officer, if you are driving over 20mph while the flashing lights are on or children are present.

For the 2017-2018 school year, Seattle school districts changed some of the usual hours for schools. Instead of grade schools starting at 9am and going until 3pm, most grade schools are now starting at 7:55am and going until 2:25pm. However, on Wednesdays, schools have early releases at 1:10. This means that the school zones will go on earlier and you may be caught unaware if you are not careful.

Most Seattle middle schools and high schools changed from 7:45am starts and going until 2:15pm to 8:55-3:45 and getting out at 2:30 on early dismissal Wednesdays. For a complete list of school schedules, check out the Seattle school districts site here.

The reason for the change in times was because of studies showing that younger children are wide awake early in the morning while teenagers and other young adults need more sleep in the morning.

According to the Seattle school districts website, School zone cameras and flashing warning signals generally start 40 minutes before a school starts and lasts until about 10 minutes after school is to start. Additionally, the school zone cameras and warning signals start 10 minutes before school gets out and ends 30 minutes after school ends.

No one wants to see their child or anyone else’s child hit by a car. There is no more of a horrific scene than to see your young, innocent loved one struck by a car. Car accidents are devastating events that are easily preventable with care and attention for those around you. Drive safely and anticipate others. Drive slow in school zones for your children and other children’s safety and well being.

Andrew CherinSeattle School Zone Times and Safety
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Can honking your horn get you a ticket?

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The other day my wife told me that she saw a Facebook post from a local mom’s group that someone had gotten a ticket from Seattle police for honking at someone to move on a green light. I was somewhat surprised that the person was given a ticket, as I am sure you are as well. The Facebook group said that you are only allowed to honk in emergency situations.

The law in Seattle for honking your horn is found in RCW 46.37.380. It states that the driver of a motor vehicle shall when reasonably necessary to insure safe operation give audible warning with his or her horn but shall not otherwise use such horn when upon a highway.

Since the law states that you can use your horn when reasonably necessary to insure safe operation of driving it is up to someone’s interpretation whether you were using it to make someone safe. Therefore, the judge could review the infraction and determine whether someone was acting reasonably when they honked their horn at another person who was not going on a green light. The person’s argument could be that because the light was green, they would fear that someone may rear end them if they do not start moving soon.

The law does not state that it has to be an emergency, it only states that honking the horn will insure safe operation of the car. What is safe operation of the car? Safe operation of the car could be anything, really. It could be to warn someone not to turn into them that may not see you in their blind spot in order to avoid a car accident. It could be to make someone aware of you that is trying to turn right in front of you.

What it is not, however, is something that is from road rage. You cannot honk at someone because they cut you off for incessant amount of time. One honk warning them that they might hit you should be ok. Blaring on the horn is not ok after that point. This probably also means that you cannot honk at your friend to come out of the house because you are here. Basically, you cannot honk your horn for anything other than to warn or make other drivers aware of what you are doing or what they are doing to keep each other safe, seems like a reasonable interpretation of the statute.

 

 

Andrew CherinCan honking your horn get you a ticket?
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Common Courtesy Wave Could Lead to Trouble

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The other day a man was driving his car trying to turn left across traffic. A woman stopped to let him across because traffic was congested She motioned him to come through the intersection but another car came flying up in the lane next to her and hit the guy trying to turn left. Who is at fault for a situation like this?

Obviously the driver who was taking a left has to yield for oncoming traffic so he is liable at first glance, but what about the woman who signaled him across? Shouldn’t she take some blame by so adamantly waving him across in a way saying, “traffic is clear buddy, you better hurry up and take my nice gesture”? Or should the guy be 100% liable as he should have gone slow and checked the next lane? What if he couldn’t see very far down the next lane?

In general, the person waving another person through an intersection has no duty to the other driver to keep them safe from harm but only to make sure they do not hit the other person. However, once the driver signals to the other driver to come through their intersection, this person may be undertaking a duty to the driver they waved through the intersection.

The case would hinge on how much of a duty the court viewed the woman who signaled the man through the intersection has by the wave. If the wave was an emphatic one that made it appear that there was no more traffic and the coast is clear, a court may find the woman has undertaken a duty to act reasonable with the safety of another driver she has now signaled. However, if the court found that the wave was just a signal to the other driver she is letting him through but not that there is more traffic coming, this could alleviate her responsibility for the car accident.

The moral of the story is to be extra careful when waving cars through an intersection when you do not have control over drivers that are behind you and lanes that are next to you. You may be at fault for waving someone through an intersection or into traffic that you otherwise would not have been.

Andrew CherinCommon Courtesy Wave Could Lead to Trouble
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Seattle Decreasing Speed Limits while USA Increasing

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An article in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend stated that speed limits on highways around the nation are increasing instead of decreasing. Most studies show that car accident injuries become more severe when speed is increased so a move around the country to increase speeds is contrary to popular knowledge of safety mechanisms to decrease severe car accident injuries.

Traffic Fatalities Fall But Could Be Less

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that there were nearly 27,000 car accident fatalities from 2000 to 2013 because of higher speed limits. In their study the IHS compared the effects of all states increase in speed limits from 1992-2013 when deciding what would have happened had speed limits stayed at federal limits of 55mph.

How Is the Speed Limit Set

Surprisingly, traditional speed limits are set within 5mph of the speed at which 85% of vehicles travel along a roadway in free-flowing traffic. This guideline is endorsed by the Federal Highway Administration but the National Transportation Safety Board recommends using crash statistics and other factors to set speed limits. Texas increased it’s speed limit 5 mph a year from 70 in 2011 to 85 three years later.

History of the Speed Limit

In 1973 the National speed limit was set at 55mph down from 65 to 75 mph in most rural areas. The decrease in speed limit the next year led to 9,100 fewer car accident related deaths the following year, according to the National Research Council. However, the National limit was repealed in 1995 due everyone’s need to go fast to save time. However, a driver going 80mph compared to someone traveling 75mph will only save two and a half minutes in a 50 mile stretch.

Higher Speed Equals Increase Likelihood of Severe Injuries

In 2015 in Seattle, 44 pedestrians, 23 bicyclists and 119 people in vehicles were killed or severely injured in car accidents. In an effort to combat car accident related deaths, Seattle has decreased speed limits around the city in order to make it safer for drivers and pedestrians alike.

Seattle Lowers Speed Limit to Combat Car Accident Deaths and Injuries

In 2016, Seattle decreased speed limits city wide by 5mph on all major intercity streets. The former 30-mph limit falls to 25 mph for downtown and connecting central-city arterials, which are generally the streets with more than two lanes, or two-lane streets divided by yellow striping.The residential speed limit of 25 mph falls to 20 mph throughout the city, including hundreds of unmarked roadways — in many cases, too narrow for drivers to safely exceed 20 anyway.

Andrew CherinSeattle Decreasing Speed Limits while USA Increasing
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How long will it take to settle my case?

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People injured in car accidents in Seattle may think twice before hiring a Seattle personal injury because they believe it will take too long to settle their case if they hire a lawyer. This could not be further from the truth.

Seattle car accident injury lawyers will not try to settle your case until you are fully healed or until they approach the statute of limitations if you have not fully healed by then. The reason for this is because you do not want to try to settle your case until your injuries are fully healed in order to fully know the amount of cost of your treatment.

People will some times try to settle their own case without a Seattle personal injury lawyer before their injuries are fully healed because they are pressured by the insurance company to settle their car accident injury case early. They will also do so because they believe that they are a good negotiator and know how much money they want in their pocket. However, if you settle before you get all your treatment, you may be surprised on how much the treatment you need to get you better is going to cost you out of pocket. This could leave you with nothing in your pocket after you pay for everything out of the settlement if you try to settle your case before your injuries are fully healed.

A Seattle personal injury lawyer will be able to make sure all of your treatment is paid for before trying to settle your case or at least know how much your out of pocket costs are going to be so they can include this in the settlement. Not knowing how much your treatment is going to cost or has costed you so far can leave you with nothing in your pocket once you are fully healed.

Seattle personal injury lawyers will try to settle your case after you are fully healed. Most personal injury lawyers can settle a car accident injury case without filing a lawsuit if they are trained at negotiating. This means that your case can be completely settled within two to three months of being completely healed and resuming normal activities at 100%.

Filing a lawsuit is necessary where insurance companies are not offering fair compensation for your injuries and leaving you with little or no money in your pocket. Most insurance companies are good faith negotiators that will try to make a fair deal.

Andrew CherinHow long will it take to settle my case?
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When do you have to stop for school buses?

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A lot of people are confused on where and when people are supposed to stop for school buses in Seattle. Some people believe that oncoming traffic doesn’t have to stop but the cars behind the bus do have to stop. When do you have to stop for school buses?

According to RCW 46.61.370 and SMC 11.53.440, you must stop for school buses if you are traveling behind the school bus  no matter the type of road or highway you are on if the school bus driver has their amber stop sign out and flashing. If you are going the opposite direction of the school bus, you must stop for the school bus on all roads except those divided by a barrier or roads with three or more lanes or traffic going each direction.

Stopping for school buses is for the safety of the children on the bus that need to cross the street to get to their house or get onto the bus. Not stopping for buses creates a danger where young children may run into the street and possibly get hit by a car causing a car accident to the young pedestrian. Stopping for school buses helps avoids pedestrian car accidents to young children and preventing significant injuries suffered in Seattle car accidents.

Fines for not stopping for a school bus with a stop sign out on the bus are double and are $419 in King County.

The Seattle school district along with others school districts in King County have installed high resolution cameras on their school bus stop signs to take pictures of license plates of cars that do not obey the stop sign of school buses. The pictures are sent to King County Sheriff to enforce.

During a pilot program last year, Seattle school district officials said they recorded nearly 600 vehicles passing a stopped school bus over 112 school days. While it’s against the law to pass a stopped bus, bus drivers don’t have time to record license-plate numbers and other information on their own.

11.53.440 – Overtaking and passing school bus.

Except as provided in subsections C and D of this section, the driver of a vehicle upon overtaking or meeting from either direction any school bus which has stopped on a roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any schoolchildren shall stop the vehicle before reaching such school bus when there is in operation on the school bus a visual signal as specified in Section 11.82.520 and the driver shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer activated.

B.

The driver of a school bus shall actuate the visual signals required by Section 11.82.520 only when the school bus is stopped on a roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging schoolchildren.

C.

The driver of a vehicle upon a street divided into separate roadways as provided in Section 11.53.080 need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging schoolchildren.

D.

The driver of a vehicle upon a street with three (3) or more marked traffic lanes need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging schoolchildren.

E.

The driver of a school bus may stop completely off the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children only when the school children do not have to cross the roadway. The school bus driver shall actuate the hazard warning lamps a defined in RCW 46.37.215 before loading or unloading school children at such stops.

F.

No school bus shall stop on an arterial street at a location other than an intersection, except at designated bus zones, passenger load zones, school loading zones, or load and unload zones for the purpose of receiving or discharging schoolchildren; provided, that school buses receiving or discharging handicapped, impaired or disabled students may stop at the most advantageous location for loading and unloading. (RCW 46.61.370)

(Ord. 119011 § 13, 1998: Ord. 108200 , § 2(11.53.440), 1979.)

RCW 46.61.370

Overtaking or meeting school bus, exceptions—Duties of bus driver—Penalty—Safety cameras.

(1) The driver of a vehicle upon overtaking or meeting from either direction any school bus which has stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children shall stop the vehicle before reaching such school bus when there is in operation on said school bus a visual signal as specified in RCW 46.37.190 and said driver shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer activated.
(2) The driver of a vehicle upon a highway divided into separate roadways as provided in RCW 46.61.150 need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
(3) The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with three or more marked traffic lanes need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
(4) The driver of a school bus shall actuate the visual signals required by RCW 46.37.190 only when such bus is stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
(5) The driver of a school bus may stop completely off the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children only when the school children do not have to cross the roadway. The school bus driver shall actuate the hazard warning lamps as defined in RCW 46.37.215 before loading or unloading school children at such stops.
(6) Except as provided in subsection (7) of this section, a person found to have committed an infraction of subsection (1) of this section shall be assessed a monetary penalty equal to twice the total penalty assessed under RCW 46.63.110. This penalty may not be waived, reduced, or suspended. Fifty percent of the money so collected shall be deposited into the school zone safety account in the custody of the state treasurer and disbursed in accordance with RCW 46.61.440(5).
(7) An infraction of subsection (1) of this section detected through the use of an automated school bus safety camera under RCW 46.63.180 is not a part of the registered owner’s driving record under RCW 46.52.101 and 46.52.120, and must be processed in the same manner as parking infractions, including for the purposes of RCW 3.50.10035.20.22046.16A.120, and46.20.270(3). However, the amount of the fine issued for a violation of this section detected through the use of an automated school bus safety camera shall not exceed twice the monetary penalty for a violation of this section as provided under RCW46.63.110.

Driving on divided highways.

Whenever any highway has been divided into two or more roadways by leaving an intervening space or by a physical barrier or clearly indicated dividing section or by a median island not less than eighteen inches wide formed either by solid yellow pavement markings or by a yellow crosshatching between two solid yellow lines so installed as to control vehicular traffic, every vehicle shall be driven only upon the right-hand roadway unless directed or permitted to use another roadway by official traffic-control devices or police officers. No vehicle shall be driven over, across or within any such dividing space, barrier or section, or median island, except through an opening in such physical barrier or dividing section or space or median island, or at a crossover or intersection established by public authority.

 

Andrew CherinWhen do you have to stop for school buses?
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Water causing a car accident – whose fault?

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This is the rainy season in Seattle and there is no shortage of water on the road. Seattle wet weather plus Seattle aggressive driving equals car accidents. It is a fact that people in Seattle drive way too fast in the rain. These people must not have been in a car accident yet because if they have been in one they would drive much slower in the rain. Whose fault is the car accident if you drive and slide out because of the rain?

Sliding out or hydroplaning in the rain, is a term that describes cars losing traction with the ground. A car generally loses traction to the ground in wet weather where the car is driving too fast for conditions and there is too much water on the ground.

There is actually a law in Seattle that makes it illegal to drive too fast for conditions. The law states that – “No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.”

Heavy rain qualifies as a potential hazard which requires you to drive slower than the speed limit. A reasonable and prudent person would drive slower if there is heavy rain and water standing on the road.

Therefore, if you hydroplane into another car, you are at fault for the personal injuries that the other person may suffer because of you driving too fast for conditions. Your insurance will cover any injuries and damage that the other person suffered in the car accident. If you have been injured, please contact a Seattle personal injury lawyer immediately for a free consultation.

RCW 46.61.400

Basic rule and maximum limits.

(1) No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event speed shall be so controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.
(2) Except when a special hazard exists that requires lower speed for compliance with subsection (1) of this section, the limits specified in this section or established as hereinafter authorized shall be maximum lawful speeds, and no person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed in excess of such maximum limits.
(a) Twenty-five miles per hour on city and town streets;
(b) Fifty miles per hour on county roads;
(c) Sixty miles per hour on state highways.
The maximum speed limits set forth in this section may be altered as authorized in RCW 46.61.40546.61.410, and46.61.415.
(3) The driver of every vehicle shall, consistent with the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.
Andrew CherinWater causing a car accident – whose fault?
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Can Uber or Lyft drivers stop wherever they want?

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I know you have all been behind a car that you think is just a random car in Seattle only to find it abruptly stop and throw on its hazard lights. It is so frustrating to be behind what you think is a normal car only to find it stop in the middle of the road and you nearly get in a car accident because they are an Uber or Lyft driver dropping off or picking up a passenger. Is it legal for them to stop in the middle of the road wherever they want and nearly cause a car accident?

It is actually illegal for Uber and Lyft drivers to put on their hazard lights and stop in the middle of the road to allow passengers in or out of their car. This requires a fine and is a moving violation not a parking violation.

SMC 11.72.040 – Blocking or obstructing traffic—Occupied vehicle.

No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle and remain therein upon or along any street when traffic will be unreasonably obstructed. Violation of this section constitutes a moving traffic violation rather than a parking violation. (RCW 46.61.560)

How then can and should Uber and Lyft drivers let passengers in and out of their car? Uber and Lyft drivers should only let passengers out in designated load an unload areas in downtown Seattle. This is why these areas were created and why no one is allowed to park in these areas.

Some will point to RCW 6.61.560(3) as creating an exception for Uber drivers to use their hazard lights to drop off and load passengers. However, this subsection only applies to public transport and non profit organizations that transport disabled people. This subsection does not create an exception for Uber and Lyft which are for profit organization who are not primarily transporting disabled people.

RCW 6.61.560(3) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply to the driver of a public transit vehicle who temporarily stops the vehicle upon the roadway for the purpose of and while actually engaged in receiving or discharging passengers at a marked transit vehicle stop zone approved by the state department of transportation or a county upon highways under their respective jurisdictions. However, public transportation service providers, including private, nonprofit transportation providers regulated under chapter 81.66 RCW, may allow the driver of a transit vehicle to stop upon the roadway momentarily to receive or discharge passengers at an unmarked stop zone only under the following circumstances: (a) The driver stops the vehicle in a safe and practicable position; (b) the driver activates four-way flashing lights; and (c) the driver stops at a portion of the highway with an unobstructed view, for an adequate distance so as to not create a hazard, for other drivers.

Andrew CherinCan Uber or Lyft drivers stop wherever they want?
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Is smoking and driving illegal in Seattle?

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With Washington State’s new distracted driving laws in full effect, many things you do while in the car can now be a fineable and insurance reportable offense. Smoking a cigarette, not an e-cigarette or vape pen, while driving is a highly distracting behavior and should be a primary offense but it is not. Smoking while driving is a secondary offense in Washington State. This means that if you must have committed another driving offense you can get a ticket for smoking while driving  in addition.

You can get a ticket for a secondary offense called dangerously distracted driving if you are doing any activity not related to driving that in the officer’s view interferes with driving safely, which includes smoking a cigarette. If an officer sees you make an illegal lane change, drive in an erratic manner, speed, run a stop sign, cause a car accident, fail to yield to a pedestrian, run a red light, or commit any other traffic stop worthy offense, you can be ticketed for an additional penalty if you were smoking a cigarette and the officer believes this contributed to your distraction.

Smoking a cigarette while driving is a highly distracting behavior that causes dangers to those around them and those riding in the car with them. If a driver decides to start smoking during their drive, they must take one hand off the wheel and look around their car for the cigarette and lighter, they must physically look away from the road in front of them, and they must be very careful to light the cigarette on the steering wheel. Additionally, they will need to ash their cigarette either into the car’s cigarette tray or out of the window. The entire process of lighting and smoking a cigarette while driving is extremely dangerous.

The National Institutes of Health published a report examining the impact of smoking while driving and its consequences. The study found that on average, drivers who were smoking were even more distracted than people who used a cell phone. Cigarette smokers averaged 12.0 seconds of distraction (equitable to traveling 525 feet without looking at the road), while cell phone users averaged 10.6 seconds of distraction (traveling 492 feet).

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted a 5-year study into the dangers of smoking while driving a truck and discovered that smoking was a source of distraction in about 1 percent of all distraction-related car accidents for truck drivers. This is also just the reported number of people that said that they were smoking. Many people probably didn’t say that they were smoking because they were embarrassed or ashamed.

The ticket price: An additional $99 is added to the other primary offense.

Dangerously distracted driving.

(1)(a) It is a traffic infraction to drive dangerously distracted. Any driver who commits this infraction must be assessed a base penalty of thirty dollars.
(b) Enforcement of the infraction of driving dangerously distracted may be accomplished only as a secondary action when a driver of a motor vehicle has been detained for a suspected violation of a separate traffic infraction or an equivalent local ordinance.
(c) For the purposes of this section, “dangerously distracted” means a person who engages in any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of such motor vehicle on any highway.
Andrew CherinIs smoking and driving illegal in Seattle?
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