The Distracted Driving Law: Putting an End to Distraction
Did you know that overspeeding is only the second most common cause of car accidents on US roads? Beating it is the growing threat of decades-old distracted driving. Using mobile phones while behind the wheel contributed, by no small means, to the myriad of distractions already in practice by millions of driving Americans.
With the hand-held devices, drivers make calls, text , or surf their phones at the same time as they mind the road, steer the wheel, change gear, peer at their rear view, and for good measure, chat with their seat mate. As luck would have it, stepping on the brakes in time might not just save the day. Crashes, collisions and casualties mount. Eating, drinking, reading, grooming and other forms contribute as well.
Distracted driving, hence, becomes a huge concern that lawmakers moved to put a stop to this reckless behavior. Senate Bill 5289, also called the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act, has just been passed in April 2017 and proposed to take effect January 2018 in Washington.
It forbids use of a handheld device, and all video watching, while a car is either moving or briefly stopped. The standard traffic fine of $136 would increase to about $245 on the second offense. The bill was accompanied by many painful testimonies of victims’ families. There were 171 fatalities in 2015 in Washington state alone.
The bill is not without its hitches. It still requires the signature of Gov. Jay Inslee which will push the effectivity date to January 2019. Member opponents to its passing are asking for more time for public adjustment, asking also that reporting to insurance companies should only apply on the second offense, not the first.
Extra time will also allow for a sustained education campaign, have car owners install built-in communication systems, and beef up the State Patrol numbers which are presently low.
A current law is in place that bans texting and cellphone chatting at the ear, but leaves legal other forms of phone use – social media and streaming video. The new law will allow motorists the “minimal use of a finger to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of the device,” such as to launch a navigation app while a smartphone is mounted in a dashboard cradle.
An extra fine of $30 will be charged for other forms of distraction. Opponents say that the new law only opens to more government intrusion and punishing technology instead of the driver. Nonetheless, proponents are willing to wait. Good things take time.
All for the New Law in Seattle
Greenwood Auto Body Shop is all set for changes in 2018 or the next. Road laws are in place for the general good. Our shop is nonetheless ready for mishaps while we encourage road safety all the time.