Friend of TADD Diana Jones speaks about her daughter, Ashley, who was killed in a texting and driving incident.
If you’re under 18 and get pulled over in Seattle, you might not get a ticket—but that doesn’t mean you won’t pay. Seattle University School of Law has partnered up with Garfield High School to create a new Seattle Youth Traffic Court. Students at Garfield will staff every part of the court, from the judge to the jury and court reporters. The court will only deal with minor traffic infractions (those that do not involve any injuries.) Students will be encouraged to practice “restorative justice;” forming creative solutions to keep students from repeating the same mistakes. If you find yourself in the Seattle Youth Traffic Court in lieu of a ticket you might be sentenced to an essay for your school paper or chores for the person whose property you damaged.
Law students from Seattle University will be coaching the students on their different roles, and all those who appear before the court must serve on a jury there twice in the future (in addition to whatever sentence is handed down to them by the court.) It’s more than allowing those who appear before the court to keep their record clean of rookie mistakes (or save their parents some money on insurance) but also to get everyone involved to think about the larger implications of their actions. When you are in the car, it can be difficult to see how allowing yourself to be distracted by friends or a phone can affect others. With the Youth Court, perhaps the offenders and court members alike will begin to understand the broader affect those dangerous choices can have. Hearing it from an adult is one thing, and let’s face it, they already have. Being able to come to conclusions on your own or collaboratively with your peers creates a much more substantial and long-term effect on behavior.
Sound off below– is this a good idea, or should teenagers just be ticketed like everyone else?
Learn more about the Seattle Youth Traffic Court.
“The Faces of Distracted Driving,” a campaign started by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, is meant to raise awareness about the significant dangers of distracted driving, specifically cell phone usage. The latest video features young Xzavier Davis-Bilbo, who was hit while crossing the street by his home in Milwaukee, by a young woman who was texting while driving. As a young boy Xzavier had dreams of playing football when he was older. The accident left him paralyzed from the diaphragm down.In 2009, over 5,000 people were killed in distracted driving accidents, and recent laws passed in numerous states don’t seem to be helping the problem because they are either not strict enough or they are not enforced. Distracted driving, like drunk driving is a conscious decision that we all make when we get behind the wheel. Hopefully after watching this video the next time you get in your car you leave your cell phone in a place where you can’t reach it because no ones life is worth a text message.
Teens Against Distracted Driving was founded by Seattle personal injury attorney Jason Epstein. Jason’s law firm, Premier Law Group, helps victims of serious injuries caused by the negligence of others. To speak with Jason about TADD or about a personal injury you have suffered, call Premier Law Group at (206) 285-1743
Updated numbers from Washington state’s distracted driving law:
As of July 8, the Washington State Patrol has issued 736 citations for talking and 43 for texting behind the wheel. At $124 per ticket, that means the state has banked nearly $100,000 in 28 days.
The Patrol has issued 504 warnings for talking and 44 for texting since the new law went into effect, even though the Patrol touted a no grace period policy for the act, that has been a secondary offense for two years.
Close to 670 drivers state wide in Washington have been ticketed and fined $124 for talking on handheld phones or texting behind the wheel.
It seems more Washingtonians are talking while driving, or at least it’s easier to catch than those texting. The State Patrol has issued 633 citations for talking and 34 citations for texting while driving.
The Seattle Police Department says they have not tracked the number of citations since the law went into effect.
I’m new to distracted driving community and was surprised to see the number of states that are reluctant to pass bans on hand held use while driving. The second map is most telling and demonstrates a need for public education campaigns to begin changing driver behaviors.
Having a strong law on the books gives groups like ours additional leverage to reach the public. Teens Against Distracted Driving was fortunate enough to be founded in Washington state, one of the seven states that has a ban on all hand held devices, for all drivers. Thanks to the vision of Seattle attorney Jason Epstein, our group of dedicated students are even afforded some resources to educate the public on this deadly behavior before our hand held law takes effect June 10.
But what about all those gray states in the hand held ban map above? Passing a law won’t change behavior overnight and the task of educating the public and changing the behaviors of friends, neighbors and family in each state will rely on individuals and groups with few resources. My hope is that Teens Against Distracted Driving’s public education campaign can be a model for groups in states that are slower to pass legislation, but still have dedicated community groups working on the cause.
We’ll be documenting our campaign as we create it and are quite interested in the past experiences and best practices of groups that have already begun to tackle this tremendous task.