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New Bills May Toughen WA Distracted Driving Laws

Distracted driving remains a problem in Seattle — as well as the rest of the state. As many drivers continue to be involved in accidents that are perfectly preventable, local lawmakers take action to help put an end to the risks. And that means taking action in the state legislature.

According to a series of reports, there are two new bills being considered by local lawmakers hoping to widen the gap between the driver and his phone. The first bill known as House Bill 1271 would prohibit any type of hands-on interaction involving handheld devices while behind the wheel. Meaning that smartphones or other types of communication would be prohibited from use.

The second bill, known ad SB 5289, would do the same. The two bills would fix the current law, which states that the act of holding a wireless communications device to the ear is prohibited. In their current form, the bills would allow drivers to use handheld devices only via one-finger touch. No other type of interaction would be allowed. But if the driver is using Bluetooth technologies, as well as voice-command features, then interactions would be permissible.

According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least 80 percent of crashes are caused by a driver who’s distracted. In at least 12 percent of these cases, phone use is to blame. Because multitasking while driving is so dangerous, these bills could help Washingtonians be better, more cautious drivers — at least in theory.

Currently, state law is clear when it comes to texting while driving. But to many lawmakers, the law does not go far enough, allowing drivers to use other apps. Addressing other types of distraction may help to ensure drivers are not using their phones at all while behind the wheel.

If the bills pass and are signed into law, the state’s minimum $124 fine for using a handheld device while behind the wheel would be raised to $350. Repeated offenders would be reported to insurance providers.

Drivers who are serious about their safety and the safety of their loved ones understand that the law alone is not the only reason to put their phones down while behind the wheel. Instead of simply following the rule, driving and focusing on the act of driving alone is important because it makes you less likely to be involved in an accident. Drivers who understand that driving takes responsibility also understand that driving while distracted will translate in more crashes.

For more on the two bills being considered by the Washington legislature, follow this link. Remember, staying safe requires effort and dedication. Focus on the road ahead and avoid distractions.

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