Edmonds top city for distracted driving? Not so fast, police say

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    Members of the Edmonds Police Department traffic unit.

    An insurance comparison website says that Edmonds has the highest rate of distracted driving in the state, but Edmonds police say the results may be skewed due to the way the city’s police handle their collision investigations.

    QuoteWizard based its rankings on per-capita crash figures from the Washington State Department of Transportation. In 2017 — the most recent year for which complete statistics are available — there were 276 distracted-driving crashes in Edmonds.

    According to the report, “the frequency of distracted driving accidents (in Edmonds) is nearly double that of SeaTac, the next city on the list, and almost triple that of neighboring Lynnwood.”

    However, Edmonds police spokesman Sgt. Shane Hawley says that the city’s No.-1 ranking may be a result of how Edmonds police investigate collision investigations.

    “We were surprised at the fact they have us listed with a distraction rate twice that of the No. 2 city,” Hawley said.

    State Department of Transportation data is collected from collision reports that police generate when an officer responds to a collision call, Hawley said. The officer writes a collision report, which includes a section specifically designed to track the causes of collisions. There are three available boxes to input data, per vehicle, on the form, he explained.

    “Driver distractions is one area our officers specifically look at when investigating collisions,” Hawley said. “We make sure, during the report approval process, that the appropriate driver distraction codes are checked (including distractions). This is an area we focus on, but it is important to note that the distracted driving codes in that section may not be a focus of all law enforcement agencies. We believe the numbers are so much higher because we specifically focus on distracted driving as part of our standard collision investigation process.”

    Hawley noted that the police department’s traffic unit will be conducting a distracted driving emphasis as part of a Target Zero initiative in May.

     

    According to the survey, 11,504 distracted-driving crashes happened in Washington in 2017, with 87 fatalities.

    SeaTac had the second-highest rate of distracted driving crashes per capita in the state, with 115 crashes and a population of about 29,000 people.

    6 Replies to “Edmonds top city for distracted driving? Not so fast, police say”

    1. When I saw the insurance industry report, I wondered if there’s any way the Edmonds Police can split out ferry-lane distracted driving citations from other parts of the city.

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    2. This study shows why one must look carefully at studies which claim to reveal reasons for any number of things that affect our lives. Data taker bias, specific narrow fields evaluated, assumptions, results desired, and even the time period covered can skew results. I suspect Sgt. Hawley is correct, the Edmonds Police emphasize distracted driving more than others. They are quite possibly more thorough in general, although that shows my bias. Thankfully, we have MEN to follow-up news releases like these and get “the rest of the story.”

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    3. You make an excellent point. I wonder however, if at least part of the problem is our aging population of retirees (the part of the population I belong to, I hasten to add). The speedsters are one thing, but the slow and the erratic drivers that I see are often “of a certain age.” I recently had to slam on the brakes when one white-haired gentleman come put of the Bank of America parking lot and turned left onto Main without looking, run through the red light on 3rd, and turn right on 2nd without signaling.

      It can be very difficult to live here without a car with so little public transportation available, but sometimes it has to be our sad duty to take away the car keys, as we had to do with my father. At my age I find my reactions slowing, and so recently bought a new car with all the safety bells and whistles that won’t let me back into things or run into obstructions. Could age be part of our problem? And if so, perhaps we need to think of alternative means of getting around.

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    4. Thank you Teresa and Sgt, Hawley for the details.

      However, just because other agencies don’t track distracted driving infractions to level our wonderful men and women of EPD, doesn’t mean we didn’t have 276 distracted driving accidents in 2017. (which I can only assume has increased) As I said in my letter to editor, please police yourself and obey the most basic of laws.

      Keep in mind, according to Sgt. Roth whom was leading the traffic patrol for EPD when I spoke with him over a year ago, every traffic accident that occurs takes on average 4 hours for the officer to clear the scene and generate the required reports. Which means in 2017 a total of 1,104 hours were spent by our police department, just for distracted driving accidents.

      Is there anyone that doesn’t believe these hours could be utilized to serve our community in a better manner?

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    5. Not so fast!

      The League of Edmonds Drivers has worked hard at achieving this distinction. We have made a great effort to propagate our unique rules of the road, and have trained Edmonds drivers to use them fearlessly.

      We’ve run out of copies for now, but our League of Edmonds Drivers Handbook for Distracted Driving will be back in stock soon.

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