With more cars (and pedestrians) on the roads, let’s prevent distracted driving

By Karyn Brownson of Public Health’s Violence & Injury Prevention team

As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, and more people return to work and school, we are starting to see more cars on the road. And that raises the risks of distracted driving.

  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of all serious traffic injuries in Washington are due to driving distracted
  • Nearly a third (30%) of all traffic collision fatalities are due to driving distracted

Most Washington drivers (90%) avoid distraction while driving, but together we can bring the number of distracted drivers down to zero. In recognition of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, here are some traffic safety tips to remember this spring.

  • When you’re at the wheel, put your phone away! With kids on the streets, walking and biking to school, now is the time to reset our habits.
  • Remember the lower speed limits in school zones. You may have forgotten about school zones during the pandemic, as there have been few schools with in-person classes. But school zone speed limits keep kids and their families safe – plus there’s a hefty fine for speeding in a school zone, and many of them have speed limit enforcement cameras.
  • Look out for other changes in traffic patterns near schools. In the City of Seattle, for example, there are some street closures, marked with signs, near elementary schools to protect kids on their way to and from the building.

It feels like a year since big yellow school buses were last meandering around our streets – because it really has been a year in many communities. Do you remember the laws about passing a stopped school bus? The Washington Traffic Safety Commission made this graphic as a reminder:

It’s not just courteous to stop for school buses – it’s the law. And pausing for a bus may just prevent a traffic ticket, or worse (just don’t use that pause to check your phone).

The people of King County worked together to keep each other safe from COVID-19 this year. We can keep investing in our safety by slowing down, putting down our phones, and stopping for school buses.

Additional traffic safety resources and information about distracted driving

Originally published April 16, 2021