As the distracted driving epidemic reaches its crisis point, the state of Washington has taken a major step to curb the problem.
The law: On July 20th, a new distracted driving law went into effect. The law bans hand-held cell phone and other electronic device use while driving, while stopped in traffic, and while stopped at a stop light. Drivers may use hands-free devices provided that use is limited to a single swipe or touch.
Penalties: Offenders may be issued an E-DUI ticket and face a $136 fine for the first offense, or a $234 fine for a second offense.
Drivers who are found to be engaging in other distracted driving behaviors, such as grooming, eating or smoking, may be issued a $99 ticket.
Drivers are allowed to use a phone to make emergency calls.
Police departments across the state are going to allow some time for drivers to adjust to the new law. During the first six months, state troopers will be handing out warnings to drivers, unless a driver’s actions are particularly dangerous and warrant a ticket. After six months, state troopers will begin routinely issuing tickets.
Distracted driving remains a major problem
Americans are becoming more and more addicted to their phones and electronic devices, and many are finding it difficult to refrain from using those devices while driving.
In 2015, 3,477 individuals were killed and more than 391,000 were injured in distracted driving-related crashes.
Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of fatal distracted driving-related crash involvement.
Will Washington’s new law discourage drivers from using their phones while driving?
Will the law have an impact on the number of accidents that occur? Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below.