Many drivers react to their phones behind the wheel without fear of the possible texting and driving consequences they face. They face legal trouble, financial stress, community embarrassment, and of course the risk of death. The combination of these should be enough to keep anyone from texting and driving. But now, as of July 23, using your phone AT ALL while driving is illegal in the state of Washington, and will result in harsher consequences.
The new ‘E-DUI’ law bans drivers from using any electronic device while driving, even when stopped at a light. According to the website dedicated to explaining the law (www.wadrivetozero.com) drivers can receive a $99 ticket for other distractions, too. Tickets are issued for “grooming, smoking, eating, or reading if the activity interferes with safe driving, and you are pulled over for another traffic offense.” The texting and driving facts show us that these activities are indeed distracting and hopefully will now be avoided as much as texting and driving.
Hands-free use is still approved to use when driving and the law includes a “one touch” rule. This rule states you can start your device with a single touch or swipe if you’re not holding it. For example, your GPS is mounted on your dashboard and you need to turn it off – you are allowed that one touch or one swipe. And drivers are still allowed to call emergency services while driving, of course.
For the first few months, law enforcement officers will only hand out warnings to motorists breaking the E-DUI law. Once the grace period is over, a first offense will cost you $136 and a second citation within 5 years will cost you $236. Tickets will go on your record and your insurance company will be made aware of the infraction.
The new law is in response to the 32% increase in distracted driving deaths in the span of 1 year. Officials hope that this new law will have the same success as the “Click It or Ticket” law which has achieved a 95% compliance rate in Washington. If a law like this proves effective, it could counteract the harshest of texting and driving consequences ever, fatal crashes.
Currently only 14 states, DC, Puerto Rico, Guam and Virgin Islands ban all drivers from using hand held devices. But with distracted deaths rising across the nation, it’s only a matter of time before other states follow suit. Washington will be a good model for the effectiveness of the E-DUI law.
Do you think that harsher laws can reduce distracted driving deaths?
Do you know the texting and driving laws in your state?
What type of texting and driving consequences would get you to stop texting and driving?
Or do you already use something like TextNinja to battle the dangers of texting and driving?
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