Washington state’s new distracted driving law is serious. It changes many things for drivers across the Evergreen state so if you’re not alert, you’re bound to pay the price.
We decided to take a look at what changes — and what doesn’t — for drivers now that the law is in effect so you know what to expect when you hit the road across the state.
New Distracted Driving Law: What Is Legal And What Isn’t?
First and foremost, drivers must be aware that the law forbids drivers of making use of any use of handheld gadgets, no matter how confident you are that the use won’t hurt you or others.
The law, which took effect July 23, bans all handheld uses of smartphones or other electronics. It also prohibits photography. The law adds more details to the ban, making sure that drivers know it is illegal for them to use their phones while stopped at a stop or red light signal.
Despite the new restrictions, drivers are still allowed to use a smartphone that is mounted in a dashboard cradle. This allows drivers to use navigation apps, but that does not mean they are allowed to watch videos as they are driving. Drivers are also allowed to make “minimal use of finger” to activate the navigation app or device — but that’s about it.
Drivers may also contact 911 or emergency services if the calls are urgent.
If you pull over safely, you may use your phone and handle it without worry, but only after you’ve pulled over safely and are off the roadway or traffic lanes. Only when reaching a spot where the vehicle can “safely remain stationary” can the driver use his or her phone.
If caught breaking the rules, drivers will be faced with a standards $136 fine, which will nearly double to $235 if you’re caught a second time using the phone while behind the wheel.
Tickets May Raise Insurance Rates
To those of you who aren’t too worried about being caught driving while distracted, you might want to think twice knowing that if you’re cited under the new law, this could cause your insurance rates to go up, as your insurance company may rely on data regarding your crash history and citation records to recalculate your premiums.
In this sense, experts contend, insurance rates will become much higher and drivers will have to either spend more money for better coverage or will be forced to have less coverage simply because he may not be able to afford his new rates.
This may cause serious problems as less coverage may put you in danger of not being able to obtain the help you need when you’re involved in an accident.
As you can see, do not wait until you’re ticketed to act. Make sure your attention is focused on your driving and on the road only, as distraction isn’t only going to be bad for your pocket — it may also lead to serious and deadly accidents.