Around 18,000 people live in Orchards, Washington, but, technically speaking, it only sort-of exists. Orchards, just north of Vancouver, is neither a town nor a city. Rather, it is what the US government calls a “census designated place.”
Like nearby Vancouver, Orchards has rich heritage stemming from the Native Americans who once made the area their home, the US military (especially the Army), who have long been a significant presence in and around Vancouver, and as a link to Lewis and Clark, George Vancouver and the other early Western explorers of what is now the Pacific Northwest. The earliest European settlers in what are now Orchards and its surrounding communities were fur traders, from whose settlements the modern cities of Portland and Vancouver developed. Orchards is also an integral part of the region served by Kaplan Law LLC from its law office at 50 SW Pine St 3rd Floor in Portland. Licensed to practice in both Washington and Oregon, Kaplan Law is able to offer a unique array of services to clients on both sides of the Columbia River.
Kaplan Law is particularly experienced in distracted driving law – a legal field that hardly existed a decade ago but is rapidly growing today. Oregon and Washington have similar laws on distracted driving. Both states ban both texting while behind the wheel and the use of handheld cellphones by a driver (cellphone use via a hands-free device, such as a headset, is permitted). Both states consider violations of these bans a “primary” offense – meaning that it is something an officer can pull you over for by itself, even if you are not, at that moment, operating your vehicle in a reckless manner.
Distracted driving laws have grown in number across the country, in part, because of the growing accumulation of data attesting to the importance of this issue. Figures compiled by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission for the period between 2004 and 2008 paint the problem in stark terms:
- 758 deaths in which distracted driving was a factor (an average of 152 per year)
- Distracted driving was a factor in one-quarter of all Washington traffic deaths during this period
- 9.8% of all distracted driving-related fatalities in Washington were pedestrians
- 40% of all Washington distracted driving deaths involved a single vehicle
Numbers like these remind us all of how important it is to raise awareness about the dangers of Washington state distracted driving. Enforcement efforts are important, but education also plays a crucial role. Too many people believe distracted driving to be ‘someone else’s’ problem, and assume that statistics like the ones above reflect only other people’s negligence. At Kaplan Law LLC we know that safe and responsible motor vehicle operation is everyone’s responsibility, and that our court system is here to hold negligent or irresponsible drivers accountable for their actions.
Kaplan Law LLC’s office at 50 SW Pine St 3rd Floor, Portland, OR 97204. Call (503) 226-3844 to schedule an appointment.