The state House gave a two-to-one OK Wednesday to a tough new law banning handheld cellphone use while driving. Dan Frizzell has that story in the audio report produced by the Washington State House Democratic Caucus.
Washington is about to do something that more and more states are doing: Prohibiting every kind of handheld use of a cellphone – or mobile electronic device, as the new law describes it – behind the wheel. To be specific, the new law would prohibit holding your phone in either hand; watching a video; or using a hand or finger for just about any kind of interactive activity. No texting, typing, emailing, tweeting, or posting, even if the phone is in a cradle. Hands-free calling over Bluetooth is fine, and you can use a finger to get Siri’s attention, or pick out your favorite podcast . . . but that’s about it. Democratic Representative Jessyn Farrell of Seattle sponsored the House version of the Senate bill that was voted on Wednesday.
“We have an epidemic of driving while under the influence of electronics and we need to interrupt that behavior and make our roads more safe. You are as impaired while engaging with your phone, looking down, holding it, typing into it, as you could be while above legal limits for alcohol in your body. It’s that distracting to your brain.”
Keeping things bipartisan, Republican Senator Ann Rivers of La Center sponsored the Senate bill. And in case you’re wondering, the new fine will be $136 dollars for the first offense and $232 dollars for repeat violators. In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.