Marysville dangerous place for distracted drivers

MARYSVILLE – A report says Marysville has the fifth-largest problem in the state when it comes to distracted drivers.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study says that texting and visual-manual tasks increase the odds of a crash by 83 percent.

Based on five years of collision data, Davis Law Group has ranked the top 10 most dangerous cities in Washington for distracted driving.

Sammamish has by far the biggest problem, with 30.77 percent of its accidents involving distracted drivers. Everett is third at 14.54 and Marysville fifth at 12.9, just ahead of Seattle and Tacoma.

Of Marysville, the study says, “…one of the fastest-growing cities in Washington state. After having zero serious or fatal distracted driving-involved crashes in 2013, Marysville had three in 2017, putting it firmly in the top 10 of our list.”

Washington State Patrol trooper Brandon Lee said Wednesday he’s seen many types of distracted driving in his career. He mentioned shaving, putting on makeup, reading magazines, eating cereal, looking at laptops, texting, steering with their knees and of course people on cell phones. And this is all on the freeway with people going 70 miles per hour.

“You can go a long way in a short amount of time,” he said. “When you take your eyes off the road you don’t have time to react.”

Lee said even talking to another person in the car can be a distraction, especially if you talk with your hands.

“If you’re deep in conversation you’re not paying enough attention to driving,” he said.

WSP’s latest emphasis is on aggressive drivers using unmarked cars. “Those cars obviously help us get more violators,” he said. “If you’re not paying attention to driving you’re not paying attention to other vehicles.”

Lee said he’s seen some horrific accidents, and it can’t always be proved the driver was distracted, but if the weather is nice and the road is flat and straight it only makes sense.

He said cell phone use is probably the biggest culprit.

“We need to focus on driving,” he said. “Let that email or phone call wait until you reach your destination or pull over where it’s safe.”

In July 2017, Washington’s distracted driving law went into effect. The law makes it illegal to use a handheld personal electronic device while driving, even if you’re stopped in traffic. First-time violators face a $136 fine.

The National Safety Council says drivers talking on cell phones can miss seeing up to 50 percent of their driving environments, even if they’re using hands-free technology. And every day, nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in crashes involving distracted drivers nationwide.

Texting while driving increases a driver’s risk of being involved in an accident 23 times. And sending or receiving a text message at a speed of at least 55 mph takes a driver’s eyes off the road for almost five seconds, enough time to drive the length of a football field.

It’s not like people don’t understand the danger. About 31.6 percent of drivers report having had a relative who was seriously injured or killed in

a motor vehicle crash.

Overall, drivers perceive unsafe driving behaviors such as talking on cellphones, texting, emailing, speeding and red-light running as serious threats to their personal safety. But the survey reveals that many drivers still engage in behaviors they recognize as unsafe. For example, a substantial number of drivers (95.6 percent) say that it is unacceptable to type text messages or email while driving; yetapproximately 34.6 percent indicated that they had done it in the previous 30 days.

Biggest problem

Most drivers (87.5) perceive that distracted drivers are a bigger problem today than in past years. Moreover, distracted driving outpaced all other issues as a growing concern. It was followed by:

•traffic congestion at 74.5 percent.

•aggressive drivers at 68.1 percent.

•drivers using drugs at 54.9 percent

•and drunk driving at 43.4 percent.

Forms of driver distraction include:

•Talking on cell phone

•Web browsing on a smart phone

•Eating and drinking

•Talking to passengers

•Self care/grooming

•Reading maps or books

•Using a navigation system

•Watching a movie

•Adjusting radio or CD player