Back in 2008, Washington legislators passed one of the earliest state laws regulating drivers’ cell phone use.
“A person operating a moving motor vehicle while holding a wireless communications device to his or her ear is guilty of a traffic infraction.”
In 2015, distracted driving was blamed for 171 traffic deaths. That is almost one-third of all traffic fatalities in Washington. This figure may be low, as drivers often do not admit using their cellphones after a crash.
Earlier this year, Washington state lawmakers proposed a bill to would strengthen and clarify the existing distracted driving law.
“We need to stigmatize driving while under the influence of electronics”
And on May 16, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed that bill into law. He was surrounded by legislators and family members of victims of distracted driving.
Here’s what’s changed.
- No sending, reading or writing text messages while driving
- No holding the phone to your ear
- $124 fine
- Violations do not affect driving record, are not reported to car insurance company
- In effect until July 23 2017
- No “personal electronic device” use at all, including at stop lights
- Fine goes up to $235 for second offense
- Violations become part of driving record
- Violations are reported to car insurance company
- Distraction as a secondary offense can carry additional $30 fine
- Goes into effect on July 23, 2017
Too many lives are lost or forever changed because drivers simply aren’t paying attention.
I am are proud of Washington State for taking the lead in confronting distracted driving.