Archive for category distracted driving

Distracted Driving is Dangerous

Image of text "Distracted Driving 3,142 Number of People Killed by Distracted Driving In 2019"

Distracted Driving Awareness Month takes place each April to bring national attention to the dangers of distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2019, distracted drivers caused 3,142 deaths and many thousands of injuries on America’s roads and highways. That’s almost 9 people killed and hundreds injured every day. Washington State Traffic Safety Council data shows that distracted driving causes 30% of fatalities and 23% of serious injuries in crashes in the State of Washington.

Operating a motor vehicle requires full attention to the road, but distraction happens easily when you are driving and at the same time using a mobile device, changing radio channels, using a calculator, applying cosmetics, smoking, eating or drinking. Texting is one of the most dangerous distractions – it takes your eyes off the road for at least 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the entire 120-yard length of a football field with your eyes shut. Driving while texting also increases your crash risk like driving with a blood alcohol content of 1.9.

It’s the Law

In 2017, Washington State passed a distracted driving law into the rules of the road. Getting ticketed for distracted driving is expensive. Fines start at $136 and can go up to $234 on repeat offenses. The citations stay on your driving record and increase your vehicle insurance rates. Federal law also prohibits texting by interstate truck drivers and forbids companies from requiring their drivers to text while behind the wheel. In addition to disqualification, civil penalties for truck drivers can reach up to $2,750 for multiple offenses, and $11,000 for companies requiring or allowing drivers to text while driving. Over 150 law enforcement agencies across Washington State participate in the Distracted Driving Awareness Month prevention effort.

Drive Safely

The best strategy to prevent a roadway incident is an easy one. Never take your mind off driving and always keep your eyes on the road and both hands on the steering wheel. Put away your cell phones and other handheld gadgets and objects until you are safely parked out of the flow of traffic.

Trucking companies should implement a cell phone policy in their safety program that prohibits drivers from using their cell phones while driving. Drivers also should not handle dispatching devices, maps, or food while driving.

Visit the following links to get more information and resources for distracted driving prevention:

Washington State traffic law:

Using a personal electronic device while driving

Dangerously distracted driving

Keep Trucking Safe:

Smart and safe cell phone use poster

Washington State Traffic Safety Council:

Distracted driving data, training resources and programs

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:

Rule limiting the use of wireless communication devices

Distracted driving tips and training tools

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Washington State’s “Move Over” Law Changes, Makes Work Zones Safer

By: Paul Karolczyk

On June 7, Washington State traffic laws changed to improve roadway work zone safety. The new law requires drivers to proceed with due caution, slow down, and, if safe, move over or change lanes when approaching any authorized construction or maintenance vehicle or worker in a designated roadway work zone. The new rules describe work zones to include adjacent road lanes 200 feet before and after stationary or slow-moving construction, maintenance, solid waste, or utility service vehicles that display flashing or rotating lights that meet state requirements for vehicle warning light systems. Fines range from $136 for failing to move over to $1,000 for reckless endangerment offenses. Penalties can also include jail sentences and driver’s license suspensions. The changes follow House Bill 2087, which passed with full legislative support to expand the previous “move over law” for first responders and emergency vehicles.


Our mobility depends on the people who build, repair, and maintain highways, streets, and bridges. Every day their roadway work zones place them near serious hazards that include being dangerously close to motor vehicle traffic. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that passing vehicles killed 248 roadway construction workers between 2011 and 2016. That’s almost 1 fatality a week. Following the rules of the road will keep Washington State’s roadway workers alive and safe.


Find more information here:


House Bill 2087 Summary


RCW 46.61, Rules of the Road


RCW 46.61.212, Approaching emergency zones – Penalty – Violation


L&I DOSH roadway worker safety training resources:


Road construction work zone safety presentation


Flagger safety


Asphalt worker safety


WSDOT Work Zone Safety resources

FMCSA Withdraws Sleep Apnea Rulemaking

By: Paul Karolczyk

On August 8, the FMCSA withdrew its rulemaking notice concerning moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The new rule was to formalize screening criteria and testing protocols to provide a consistent way to address OSA-related safety risks in the trucking industry.

FMCSA initiated the rulemaking in March 2016 in response to concerns raised by trucking stakeholder groups about the agency’s plan to use regulatory guidance instead of the public notice-and-comment process before taking regulatory action. The rulemaking sought public comment on the prevalence of OSA, cost and benefits of regulatory action, screening procedures and diagnostics, medical personnel qualifications and restrictions, and treatment effectiveness.

FMCSA’s withdrawal of the rulemaking leaves the current system unchanged – which only provides advisory criteria, giving medical examiners full discretion over screening, testing, and treatment decisions in the medical certification process.

Washington Trucking Associations, the trucking industry’s leading voice in the state, disagrees with the FMCSA’s decision, stating, “The WTA is disappointed in the withdrawal of the sleep apnea rulemaking, we would like to see rules published instead of guidance, we feel that this would eliminate the many various interpretations of the guidance that we are experiencing now.”

What is OSA?

OSA is a common, but serious respiratory disorder. The affected person’s upper airway repeatedly collapses from involuntary relaxation of throat muscles during sleep. Recurrent pauses in breathing or shallow breathing interrupt sleep and cause drowsiness, fatigue, and decreased awareness during waking hours. Risk factors for OSA include obesity, male gender, advancing age, family history, large neck size, and a small oropharynx (throat). OSA is also associated with higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

Although loud frequent snoring can indicate sleep apnea, the disorder is often undiagnosed because affected people are unaware of their breathing problems during sleep. Testing consists of overnight sleep studies. A common treatment choice is use of a continuous positive airway pressure device, which gently feeds air through a mask over the nose and/or mouth to keep the airway open during sleep. Other treatment options include weight loss, dental appliances, and surgery.


FMCSA Sleep Apnea Rulemaking Withdrawal:

Current FMCSA Advisory Criteria to Medical Examiners for Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

Don’t cut off trucks!

By Jena Williams

Semi vs. minivan

Summer is almost here, which means driving with the top down, carloads of teens on break, families on vacation…in a word “traffic,” lots of it.

While others are having a good time, truck drivers are still working.

Talking to truck drivers reveals that one of the most stressful parts of their job is dealing with being cut off in heavy traffic. Why? Because if you are in a collision with a semi-truck, it likely won’t be a fender bender and you likely won’t walk away from it. The truck driver’s biggest concern is staying on high alert for the erratic behavior of other drivers to protect them from their own mistakes. So please don’t risk your life or make a driver’s stressful job any harder. Drive safely around trucks.

So enjoy your summer, but keep it safe. Remember that the truck driver in the next lane is bringing stuff you need to a store near you or possibly straight to your doorstep. Be kind to the driver as the driver is working hard to protect you as well.

Teens and Trucks – Share the Road:

The No Zone rap:

Great info from Oregon DOT on truck’s blind spots:

Best tips for sharing the road with big trucks:

Be nice to truckers on Memorial Day

By Jena Williams

Leave more space for trucks

Memorial Day weekend unofficially marks that start of summer for many people. It seems the extra day off tends to be more associated with barbeques than the patriotism of soldiers who gave it all for our freedom. School is wrapping up and with it, and there’s a certain playfulness in the atmosphere as everyone looks forward to a break from their insane routines.

Traffic will be heavy today as people return from weekend getaways and local get-togethers. There will also be trucks on the road because delivering all we need is a 24/7 job. So be nice to the truck driver in the next lane. When traffic starts to bunch up, don’t cut in front of the truck just because there is a big space there. That space is there to keep them from squishing the vehicle in front of them during an emergency stop.

Also important is to remember the “No Zone.” Don’t linger around trucks in areas where you cannot be seen.

So this Memorial Day, remember our soldiers, remember loved ones that aren’t here this year. And on the roads be safe.

Check out these videos on YouTube for more info:

No Zones rap:

Smooth operator stopping demo:

How long does it take a commercial vehicle to stop in perfect conditions:

U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

By Jena Williams


April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and a prime time to reconsider our actions on the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is launching a high-visibility enforcement campaign to crack down on texting while driving and with it they have produced a shocking and unforgettable YouTube video on distracted driving::

Many police jurisdictions are targeting distracted driving. If you get caught in Washington, you’ll receive a $124 ticket. If you are a commercial truck driver, your CSA score will be impacted. All this is really a minor inconvenience when you consider what could happen – distracted driving kills.

For more information:

National Safety Council:


DOT blog:

FMCSA regulation 392.82: Using a hand-held mobile telephone:

Washington state regulations:

RCW 46.61.668 Sending, reading, or writing a text message while driving:

RCW 46.61.667 Using a wireless communications device or hand-held mobile telephone while driving.

What’s your resolution?

By Jena Williams


Do you groan or get encouraged when someone asks about your New Year’s resolution? Do you make the same resolution each year only to forget all about it by about January 7?

Instead of the old standards like eat better, exercise more, work less, work more, finish projects, be a better friend, parent, spouse, etc., how about if we all agree to the same resolution and hold each other accountable to keeping it? The Washington State Patrol and your employer already require it. Have you guessed yet?

That’s right! Make your resolution to not text and drive! If you’ve already achieved this goal, then fantastic! But if you are one of those who have just gotten a little sneakier about how you do it, please consider going cold turkey with me on January 1.

Consider these reasons why:

What we learned from 9 people who died because of texting:

If you love someone, don’t text and drive:—101-s-after-sending-romantic-text-messages-to-boyfriend

It can wait. Take the pledge:

Have a happy and safe new year!

Photo: Bill Watterson’s famous Calvin and Hobbes comic strip

What will it take?

By Jena Williams

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that distracted driving is a big problem. There are laws against it, grieving families have told their stories, we know that statistically it’s even more dangerous than drunk driving – yet it’s still happening.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month so many organizations are pushing even harder to get the word out and get us to make the safe choice.

Personally, I believe it’s going to be peer-pressure that changes society’s behavior when it comes to distracted driving. It’s what has worked for smoking. I remember coming home as a horrified fourth grader to lecture my parents on their smoking habit. In those days, most adults smoked even in enclosed cars with their kids. Now, I almost never see kids struggling to breathe in the back of a smoky vehicle like my brother and I did.

I also remember not wearing seatbelts and being able to ride in the bed of the truck on hot summer days. Years later I bought a dog and had to sign a contract that I would never let her ride in the bed of a truck. Times have really changed!

I could go on all day with examples of how once generally accepted behavior gradually becomes unacceptable to a society. But how many smokers’ kids had to develop asthma or eventually lung cancer first? How many unbelted kids were thrown from vehicles before that became unacceptable?

We as a society need to make distracted driving unacceptable.

More information:


National Safety Council:

The cost of cleanup

crashBy Jena Williams

Truck crashes are devastating. Lives are lost, property is destroyed, loads are ruined. Sometimes the cost even extends to the environment. Spilled loads or fuel can contaminate soil and waterways. Sometimes, even when there are no major injuries to people, the trucking company may spend years paying for the costs to the environment.

One example is the horrific crash November 4th, that killed a dedicated truck driver and spilled aviation gasoline from his double tanker truck. The Department of Ecology reported that “all oil spills cause environmental damage, regardless of size. A single quart of oil has the potential to foul more than 100,000 gallons of water.” (reported by King 5 News)

I’ve talked with companies that had to provide bottled water to residences after crashes that might have impacted the water supply. One manager confided that a spill of herbicide cost their company over a half a million dollars to clean up. Thankfully, the driver walked away, but the load and truck were a loss.

More surprises.  This article suggests that maybe we should cry over spilt milk. Apparently even a substance as innocuous as milk can be disastrous to fish and wildlife.

So the point of this article…It’s just one more reason, though maybe not the most important one, to drive safely around trucks. Don’t text and drive. Give trucks space. And drivers, please stop and rest when you are tired.

What stories can you share on this topic? Please tell us in the comments below.

Useful links:

Share the road:

Effects of blood alcohol level:

Driver fatigue:

*Photo from the Bellingham Herald, credit South King Fire & Rescue