An Associated Press story, reprinted in The Oregonian, offers a gut-wrenching reminder of the dangers of Washington and Oregon distracted driving.
According to the news agency, a couple and their 8-year-old nephew all died when the husband lost control of his SUV on I-182 near Richland. The report quotes the Washington State Patrol saying the driver “was on the phone moments before” the vehicle “swerved off the road and rolled seven times.” The couple’s three children – ages 10, 8 and 2 – were also in the SUV. The older children were injured and received treatment at area hospitals. The toddler was unharmed.
Washington, like Oregon, has a distracted driving law that forbids use of a handset while behind the wheel. Though both states laws allow for “primary” enforcement (i.e. you can be pulled over just for being on the phone. In some other states distracted driving enforcement is “secondary” meaning that some other alleged violation – such as speeding – has to be the initiating factor in a traffic stop), we all know that it is relatively easy to skirt distracted driving laws when there are no law enforcement officers in sight.
This accident, however, is the most tragic sort of reminder of the dangers of doing so. Washington and Oregon enacted distracted driving laws with the goal of helping keep motorists safe. The fact that one may, on a particular stretch of road, be relatively likely to get away with breaking the distracted driving law does not mean that doing so is a good idea. Distracted driving is illegal because it is unsafe – regardless of whether or not the police are watching at any given moment.
Beyond the tickets issued by police officers, victims of Washington and Oregon distracted drivers should consider the help a Portland distracted driving attorney can offer as they try to rebuild their lives in the wake of an accident caused by someone else’s recklessness. The citation issued by local police or state troopers will not make you, the victim, whole again. For that only the court system can help – and an Oregon distracted driving attorney will prove to be your best ally as you set out to navigate it.
AP via The Oregonian: Washington state patrol says driver was on phone moments before crash that killed three