19-year-old Heather Lerch’s last minutes on Earth were spent texting while driving.
In February of 2010, Heather was killed instantly one month after her birthday, as her car left the roadway south of Tumwater, struck a guardrail and tumbled into a ditch. Now, as Heather’s parents deal with unimaginable grief, they’ve also become active in working to get the message out that distracted driving takes lives and changes families forever. This is their story:
If you’re driving on the freeway, you can travel more than the length of a football field in the time it takes to read a short text message or dial a number.
When you’re in the car, keep your hands off the phone.
Since 2007, if police pulled you over for a traffic infraction, they also could ticket you if you were holding your cell phone and talking. Now, talking on your cell phone could be the violation that gets you pulled over to begin with — and law enforcement across Washington will be on the lookout.
Starting June 10, talking or sending text messages while holding a wireless device will carry a $124 fine. Legislation passed during the 2010 legislative session changed the current cell phone law into a primary traffic offense. That means if police see you holding your phone, they can pull you over and ticket you. Drivers must use hands-free devices. And new drivers with instruction permits or intermediate licenses aren’t permitted to use wireless devices at all, except in emergencies, as with all other drivers.
Are you a parent that purchased your teen a cell phone when they entered middle school for “safety” reasons? Well the fact is, now that device is one of the most dangerous things they can have as they turn 16 and get behind the wheel of a car. Talk to your children about the life-changing effects distracted driving can have and set clear expectations that when they’re driving, they’re not playing with a cell phone. The call or text can wait.
Eyes off the road can change lives forever. Intermediate license holders can’t use any wireless device — with or without a hands-free device — while operating a vehicle unless they’re reporting an emergency.