Most drivers acknowledge the risk of driving distracted, according to a 2018 study called the Travelers Risk Index.
But, 1 out of every 4 drivers will answer a call or text or look at personal technology while on the road anyway — and believe they can do it safely, the study says.
Nearly 40 percent of drivers, on average, are distracted for 15 minutes out of every hour they drive, the study concluded.
Of those drivers, 61 percent say they engage with their smartphone or tablets on the road because they are concerned there might be an emergency.
About 23 percent say they just don't want to miss out on anything happening.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission says it takes drivers 27 seconds to refocus on the road after using a smarthphone while driving, leaving plenty of time for preventable collisions.
In Washington, fatalities resulting from distracted driving increased by 32 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to the Northwest Insurance Council.
And, during the first half of 2017, the Washington Insurance Commissioner's office reported auto insurance rates increased by an average of 5.9 percent among the state's top 20 insurers as a result.
Citations and collisions resulting from distracted driving could further increase rates, NWIC says.
The state also continues to implement penalties in an effort to reduce distracted driving. The Washington State Patrol has increased distracted driving patrols, and often notifies drivers of this on roadside electronic message boards.
Washington also enacted a new law in 2017, called "Driving Under the Influence of Electronics" (E-DUI), strengthening penalties for using electronic devices in the car.
NWIC offers some tips to help prevent distracted driving in Washington:
- Power down cellphones and store them while driving to avoid distractions from texts or calls.
- If driving with a passenger, let them answer any necessary notifications.
- Don't call or text others when you know they are on the road.
- Install applications on smartphones that generate automatic messages in response to people attempting to contact you.
- Plug in GPS coordinates or start music applications before you begin driving.
- Pull off the road in a safe place if making a call or composing a text is necessary during your trip.
- Don't eat or drink while driving, and comb your hair before you get behind the wheel.