driving | KUOW News and Information

driving

Washington State Trooper Rick Johnson
KUOW Photo/Katherine Banwell

State Trooper Rick Johnson has heard some curious excuses from people driving in the HOV lane.

"I forgot I didn’t have my kids in the car.”

“I consider my dog/golden retriever a person.”

Others are more brazen: “We’ve confiscated a number of mannequins,” he said.


Seattle traffic was ranked 9th worst in the country in 2017, according to INRIX
KUOW Photos / Megan Farmer

It was 8:30 a.m., and I was crawling south on Interstate 5 in gummy Seattle commuter traffic. 


A view of the sky over Bertha the tunnel borer, whose efforts brought the SR-99 tunnel to life.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/yNcg1q

Let's say you owe me $20.

You decide that to pay me back, you'll set up a lemonade stand. There's about $50 in overhead: lemons, sugar. And don't forget wages for the younger siblings you'll be pressing into service to man the booth.

In the meantime, I decide to charge you $13 in interest. And suddenly, you find yourself needing to raise $100 to pay me that original $20.

Cameras on the Highway 520 bridge take pictures of license plates as vehicles pass to assess tolls.
Flickr Photo/Wonderlane (CC-BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9ftjw3

Drivers will have a free ride on the state Route 99 tunnel in Seattle when it first opens this fall. After a few months, however, expect to pay a toll of $1.00-$2.50 for each trip.

The Washington State Transportation Commission has proposed multiple tolling options and will present them in public meetings this spring. 


With traffic congestion getting ever worse in the Seattle metro area, two classes of solo drivers are asking for permission to use the carpool lanes.

But it's a hard sell in Olympia.

Adhering to Seattle's climate action plan would require reducing tailpipe exhaust 15 times faster than the 0.5 percent a year Seattle has actually achieved.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Kim Malcolm talks with Lisa Van Cise about the heavy traffic that drivers can expect over Thanksgiving weekend. Van Cise is a spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Courtesy of Michael Violandi

Many of us spend large portions of our lives in cars. Many of us are annoyed by other people in their cars.

The fact is, human beings behind the wheels of their automobiles are dangerous. In 2015, over 35,000 Americans died in fatal car crashes. With the advent of texting while driving, those numbers are trending up. 

Having a phone in your hand while driving could cost you $136 under the new law.
Flickr Photo/Intel Free Press

Jeannie Yandel talks to Austin Jenkins, KUOW's Olympia correspondent, about the distracted driving bill that lawmakers have been working on this session and how it would change the current law. 

Put down your phone and drive. That’s the message from Washington lawmakers.

The Washington House passed a new distracted driving law Wednesday and it needs one more vote in the Senate before it goes to the governor.

Oregon lawmakers are considering a measure that would make it illegal to check your social media feeds while you're behind the wheel. A House panel takes up the bill Monday afternoon.

There won't be as many happy test-takers in the new future, predicts the Washington State Department of Licensing. That's because a new test replaces the old one on Monday, and there will be more questions.
Flickr Photo/John Meehan CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 http://bit.ly/2boP91R

A new Washington state driver's test debuted on Monday.

The number of questions has been upped to 40, and there are some new topics.

Thanks to a measure approved by Oregon lawmakers last summer, you’ll soon be able to legally drive faster on more than 1,500 miles of highways in Oregon. But while the bill sped through the legislature fairly quickly, there's a lot to be done before Oregon drivers can speed up.

It's not so bad being stuck in traffic when the mountain is out. Mount Rainier traffic
Flickr Photo/Adventures of Pam & Frank (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Interstate 405 is a parking lot for about eight hours on weekdays. 

The state wants to know how much you would pay to dodge that traffic by using new tolled expressways.

That question is the focus of a series of public meetings starting Tuesday night at Bellevue City Hall (info on that and other meetings here).

KUOW’s Joshua McNichols has more.

KUOW Photo/Jason Pagano

Rainier Avenue, one of two main arterials in Seattle’s southend has a notorious problem with aggressive, speeding drivers.

Safety experts say there are historically three big killers on the road: drunken driving, not wearing a seatbelt, and speeding.

The Northwest’s deep freeze is over for most of the region, but snow remains in some areas and winter is just arriving. That means more cold temperatures and potentially icy commutes in the months ahead.

The Oatmeal/Matthew Inman

Every winter, Seattleites return to a hotly debated topic: Do we know how to drive in ice and snow? My coworkers are all complaining about Seattle drivers as I type, in fact — even those from the Northwest originally. So here are a few tips I gleaned from watching way too many YouTube videos.

Flickr Photo/OregonDOT

Studies upon studies have exposed the dangers of texting and driving. Some go so far as to say texting is worse than drinking and driving. Renowned director Werner Herzog even made a film about it.

Yet a new University of Washington study shows that one in 12 drivers in Washington state are still using cellphones or other electronic devices on the road, and half of those using their devices are texting.

Ross Reynolds talks with Beth Ebel, the study's principal investigator and trauma doctor in the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Harborview, about her findings.

Lyft

You may have seen cars driving around the Seattle area with oversized, hot pink moustaches on their front grills. Those moustaches are trademarks for a new car service company called Lyft, one of several ride-sharing services now operating in the city. Think of them like Airbnb, but with a car and a driver. Lyft, Uber X and Sidecar allow laypeople to use their own cars and act as cabbies. The services are expanding in Seattle, and they’re drawing increased scrutiny from the cab industry, as well as from regulators and policymakers. Some officials say the businesses are illegal.

Governor Inslee Pushes For Tougher DUI Penalties

Apr 18, 2013
Flickr Photo/Renee Silverman

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average drunken driver has driven drunk 80 times before their first arrest. Here in Washington after a rather horrific spree of drunk driving related deaths, the governor is getting tough on drunken drivers by proposing tougher penalties for first-, second- and third-time offenders. One of the governor's more strident proposals would ban third-time offenders from purchasing alcohol. In this segment of the conversation listeners share their thoughts on these new and tougher proposed penalties.

Are Washington's DUI Laws Tough Enough?

Apr 10, 2013
Flickr Photo/Chimpr

Washington Governor Jay Inslee wants to crackdown on drunken drivers in the wake of some recent tragedies involving intoxicated drivers. Today, Ross Reynolds talks with New York University Langone Medical Center professor, Baron Lerner about how DUI laws and enforcement in Washington compare nationally.

Ask The Traffic Cop: Officer John Abraham

Apr 9, 2013
Stacey Sanner

Are you ever driving down the street, see something happen in traffic and wonder, is that allowed? Ross Reynolds sits down with KUOW's favorite traffic cop, Officer John Abraham, and talks about the rules of the road. From four-way stops to tailgating, pedestrian rule breakers and aggressive bus drivers, The Conversation is on the road to getting your traffic questions answered.