Starting Thursday, If You Text Or Talk While Driving, You Could Get A Ticket
Starting this Thursday (June 10), police agencies around the state will begin enforcing Washingtonâ€™s newly-revised law restricting vehicle drivers from talking or texting while driving.
The revised law, with the catchy slogan “Text. Talk. Ticket.” (I bet the same person who came up with “Clickit or Ticket” wrote this one) makes texting or improper cell phone use primary offenses, meaning that drivers can be pulled over for those violations alone. It also prohibits the use of electronic devices by younger drivers with an Intermediate Driverâ€™s License or Learnerâ€™s Permit, with or without a hands-free device.
Normandy Park Police Chief Rick Kieffer said “Distracted driving is a serous threat to everyone on the road. Normandy Park Police will follow the Washington State Patrols policy of strict enforcement.”
Tickets are $124 and could be more if your distracted driving causes a collision.
Here’s more info from the Washington State Patrol:
How will WSP enforce the changes?
â€œIf youâ€™re holding the phone to your ear, youâ€™re likely to be stopped,â€ said Captain Chris Gundermann of the state patrolâ€™s field operations bureau. â€œWe will be flexible with virtually any type of headset or speakerphone device, but holding the phone itself to your ear will get our attention.â€
Since 2008 the law has prohibited drivers from texting while driving, and required those talking on cell phones to use hands free devices. However, the earlier version of the law was â€œsecondaryâ€ meaning that officers had to see a different violation in order to make the traffic stop.
Gundermann noted that those with hearing aids are exempt, as are those reporting an emergency to 9-1-1. Troopers will inquire about exemptions once the person has been pulled over.â€
â€œNo ticket is automatic. If the person has a hearing aid or is calling 9-1-1, weâ€™ll get them quickly on their way,â€ he said
Texting can be harder for troopers to spot, because the unit is normally held lower than when talking on a cell phone. Gundermann says studies show that those reading or sending a text message take their eyes off the road for up to five seconds.
â€œWeâ€™ll be looking for people who clearly arenâ€™t watching the road. Weâ€™ve had a couple years to practice spotting this behavior and can usually tell when someone is texting. Sooner or later the phone comes up high enough that we can see it and make the stop.â€
At the Department of Licensing, Director Liz Luce is urging parents to help with enforcement of the complete ban on electronic devices for those with intermediate licenses.
â€œResponsibility starts at home, so I ask parents to have a conversation with their teen drivers, because the consequences of distracted driving can be deadly,â€ Luce said.
Statistics have long shown that younger drivers make up a disproportionate number of those injured or killed on the highway.
â€œA cell phone in the car is one of the most dangerous things a teen driver can have. Come June 10, teen drivers with intermediate licenses arenâ€™t permitted to use their cell phones at all, with or without a hands-free device, unless theyâ€™re reporting an emergency.â€
Multiple traffic violations on an intermediate driver license can lead to suspension and even an extension of the intermediate license restrictions until the driver turns 21.
Safety experts recommend people not talk on the phone at all while driving, pointing out that the conversation itself is a distraction.
â€œIdeally, we would like to see all drivers save their phone conversations for later and concentrate on the road. Study after study has demonstrated that talking on the phone while driving seriously impairs your awareness and ability to react,â€ said Lowell Porter, executive director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
The Commission also has announced its new slogan to help people stay safe: Text, Talk, Ticket.