Distracted driving is a dangerous activity to undertake, and the modernization of the cell phone has made the issue worse by providing every driver the ability to surf the internet, make phone calls, text, and stream music or podcasts. This coupled with the fact that almost 303 million people in the United States own cell phones means that the opportunities to be distracted behind the wheel are seemingly endless. Not only are our roads much more dangerous, but also Mississippi drivers are opened up to criminal liability.
According to King 5 News out of Seattle, Washington, King County recently celebrated the five-year anniversary of their Electronic DUI law which completely bans the use of cellphones while behind the wheel of a vehicle, even at a stop sign or a red light. According to the head of the king county target zero task force, distracted driving is the third leading cause of wrecks behind speeding and impairment due to alcohol or drugs which is why they saw fit to enact legislation that would subject distracted drivers to criminal liability in the same way that other impaired drivers are charged.
The electronic dui law has seemed to work. As traffic accidents due to distracted drivers has continuously declined year over year. In 2017, the last year before the e-dui law took effect, 13,758 crashes occurred in king county, Washington due to distracted driving which dwarfs the 4,988 crashes seen in 2021. According to the Washington traffic safety commission, 30% of crash fatalities are a result of distracted driving and drivers are three times as likely to get in an accident when they are talking on the phone. While the law seems to be having the desired effect, the fact remains that another law banning a certain behavior opens each individual up to more possibility to be criminally charged and convicted for committing what most people think is a safe act, like checking some email notification before the light turns green.