by Deputy Chief Mike Cotton

Driving is terribly dangerous! More vehicles on the road. More reasons for drivers to not pay attention while on the road. Talking on the phone, adjusting the music, setting the navigation system, texting, watching videos, reading, grooming, or eating, all while driving just to name a few. Hands free talking, truly means not holding the phone in your hand and talking via the speaker. Distracted driving causes more than a million accidents annually, resulting in 300,000 injuries and deaths – often pedestrians, cyclists, and persons in other vehicles. Almost 1 dozen teenagers die nationally every day in texting-related auto accidents. Texting makes a driver 20 times more likely to crash than attentive driving. A car at highway speed travels the length of a football field in the blink of an eye – how long does a texting driver divert their attention or look away from the road.

Add to that the lack of responsibility and respect some have to other drivers on the road.  SR 525 has traffic travelling at near freeway speeds on a two lane road. Yes there are places that the speed limit is reduced to 45MPH, in congested areas Freeland, Bayview, and Ken’s Corner. ICSO and WSP could tell us how many motorists really obey the speed limit. If you have not noticed we have a rush hour around here that we did not seem to have before.  I’m not referring to the north/south multi-directional, every ½ hour ferry traffic.

Everybody seems to be in such a big hurry to get wherever, slow down, and think about leaving earlier. Wait that 3 – 5 seconds for the car approaching to drive past, instead of pulling out in front of them. Do you know how fast that vehicle is traveling at you, what if they are a distracted driver? You won’t get there that much faster, or they might not really want your spot in the ferry line. The need to “get there” is constantly displayed by those who must pass a left turning vehicle on the right side. This process is terribly dangerous and could result in being cited. Traffic laws in Washington State reveal when you pass a left turning vehicle on the right you are breaking about 3 laws, passing on the right, driving on the road shoulder, and passing in an intersection. Statistics show when you are more relaxed, you pay more attention to the road and to the traffic around you, and the drive will be much safer, for all of us.

In my profession, I have the opportunity to see of some of the disastrous and fatal results drivers create.  Many years ago I had the less than desirous task of responding to an accident that involved my family, a rear end accident at 55 MPH in Bayview. That accident was caused by a non-attentive driver, long before today’s multiple distractors. Thankfully the only thing that had to be replaced uses sheet metal, others have not been so fortunate or lucky!