Kent Fire Department finds distracted driving causes many accidents

Vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers are a common theme when the Kent Fire Department responds to crashes. - COURTESY PHOTO, Kent Fire Department
Vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers are a common theme when the Kent Fire Department responds to crashes.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO, Kent Fire Department

One of the most common emergencies that the Kent Fire Department Regional Fire Authority responds to is a vehicle crash. In many of these cases, distracted driving is a contributing factor.

“Distracted driving” can be defined as any action(s) that takes your hands (manual), eyes (visual), and/or mind (mental) off the primary duty of operating a vehicle, according to a Kent Fire Department media release.

While we think of distracted driving being the use of a hand-held cellphone or of texting, in fact eating/drinking, smoking, listening to music, and pets on a driver’s lap can all be forms of distractions. Even devices designed to help us drive, such as navigation systems can take be manual, visual, or mental distractions.

2013 Washington state statistics:

• 35,865 crashes caused by inattention/driving distractions.

• These crashes resulted in 113 deaths.

• 437 crashes were in part caused by inattention/distractions by pedestrians or bicyclists.

• 39,389 cellphone and texting citations were filed in Washington State courts.

• The busiest period for cellphone/texting citations was May to August with 16,661.

• Texting or talking while holding a wireless device carries a $124 fine.


• In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in vehicles where distracted driving was a contributing factor.

• Each day, over 1,000 people are injured in crashes involving distracted drivers.

• 10 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time.

While texting only makes up about 7.3 percent of distracted driving citations in Washington State, studies have shown that texting simultaneously involves manual, visual, and mental distractions and is among the worst of all driver distractions. At any given time across the country, it is estimated that 100,000 drivers are texting.

The biggest danger is that texting typically takes a driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds. At freeway speeds, that is driving more than the length of a football field while not looking at the road.

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