"I was just checking the time" and other excuses that don't get you out of a distracted driving ticket
It takes about five seconds to glance at your phone while texting.
A popular statistic is that driving for five seconds at highway speed while texting is like driving the length of a football field blindfolded. I did the math; it actually only takes a car going 40 mph to travel that distance. Whatcom and Skagit high school students entering my scholarship contest - this is a great opportunity to ask for some extra credit from your math teacher and see if I'm right!
Who on earth would drive that way?? It's a logical question. I'd never want to have to drive 100 yards blind, not even if I was guaranteed to be the only car on the road. However, a lot of people do this. In fact, in the city of Seattle alone, police handed out 2,249 tickets for handheld cell phone violations in 2014. I'm sure Bellingham drivers are not immune - I wasn't, myself, until I learned how risky it is.
According to the Washington State Department of Licensing page on Distracted Driving:
- A driver talking on a cell phone is as impaired as a driver with a .08 blood-alcohol level.
- A driver who is texting is as impaired as a driver with a .16 blood-alcohol level. That’s double the legal limit.
You can be pulled over if a police officer thinks you're using your phone while driving. Here are the laws themselves so you can take a look. Ask yourself, have you ever done those things the laws name? Know anyone else who has? If you answer yes, please share this post with whoever you're thinking of.
- RCW 46.61.667: Using a wireless communications device while driving
- RCW 46.61.668: Sending, reading, or writing a text message while driving
- RCW 46.20.055: Instruction permit
- RCW 46.20.075: Intermediate license
Fines are $124 if you are ticketed, which is pretty reasonable considering how much higher your likelihood of causing a car accident if you're distracted.
So what if you are pulled over for distracted driving? Perhaps the officer is just looking for a good reason that you were on your phone. Here is a list of some great excuses you could memorize in case you're pulled over in hopes to get out of the ticket. Unfortunately, none of them have worked. However, they are good reminders of how innocent distracted driving can seem despite how deadly it is.
You can find the full list here, but below are a few of my favorites:
- I wasn't using it -- I just like to hold it.
- Sorry officer, I didn't see you trying to pull me over because I was on my phone
- I was just checking the time.
- It was my boss on the phone -- I had to answer it.
- This is a bogus law.
Please, everybody, don't use your cell phone while driving. If you want further reading (and inspiration for the scholarship video contest, read on.)