The new year brings us more than the hope for better times to come as a series of new law changes come into effect in the great Evergreen state.
While many of the new rules do not affect drivers, others will. As a group of dedicated personal injury attorneys, we want to make sure our clients, friends, and readers are being updated on what is changing in the new year so you won’t be caught by surprise while behind the wheel.
According to a series of news reports, the grace period for the state’s new distracted driving law is now officially over.
From now on, Washingtonians will be ticketed if they are caught using their phones to text while behind the wheel. They will also be cited if they are talking or simply holding their phones for any other reason.
First offenses will cost drivers $136 while second offenses will cost them $234. This new law is more detailed than the state’s previous distracted driving rules. It sends a signal to drivers all across the state that if they are not going to put safety first, they will face serious legal consequences.
Distracted driving has been to blame for the increase in the number of traffic accidents not only in Washington, but also across the country. This reality makes distractions serious as they increase the risk of accidents and put the lives of countless drivers, pedestrians, passengers, cyclists, and motorcycle riders in major danger.
Due to the increased risk thanks to the increasing number of phone owners in the country, we begin to learn that distractions are not only associated with talking on the phone. Too often, drivers are distracted by using other features such as texting or apps that give them access to social media.
But according to organizations such as AAA, distracted driving is also a risk to those who dictate messages to their phones or who use voice-powered commands.
Just because you’re not holding your phone, these experts say, it doesn’t mean that you’re not distracted.
Cognitive distraction can be just as dangerous as distractions caused by handheld objects, conversations, or babies or pets in the backseat. Drivers who are not aware of this fact may end up putting others in danger if they fail to avoid distractions while behind the wheel.
Aside from the fact that the new distracted driving law is now going into full effect, other rules have also gone into effect on January 1st such as the new minimum wage, which has increased to $11.50 an hour. The increase, which is part of Initiative 1433, is not the only change to impact workers. According to the new rules, employers are also now required to provide paid sick leave.
Another law change implements a new sugar tax, which will eventually increase the cost of certain sugary drinks. The rule is meant to discourage consumers from consuming beverages that are seen as unhealthy by government officials.
For more on the new rules and how the distracted driving law as well as others will impact your routine, follow this link.