Sunday, March 14, 2010

JMO - June 10th

Yippee for this day this year. Why? On June 10th, when the Govenor of this state (Washington) signs into the law the bill that has now passed both houses of the legislature, the use of a cell phone for any purpose, meaning talking, dialing, reading, messaging, etc., will not just be illegal as it has been since July 1, 2008, but a primary offense with a $124 ticket.

This applies to anyone driving anywhere except when parked out of the flow of traffic, including parking lots, malls, private roads, etc. The law excludes any driver while parked and not in traffic. The exceptions are for people making emergency calls (911) or to police numbers to report crimes or violations (HOV, etc.).

The law was in effect, in addition to banning text messaging since January 1, 2008, as a secondary offense, meaning the police had to stop the driver for another offense. I've written how flagrantly this law has been violated when I've noted that there isn't one trip or day of driving I don't see at least one driver with a cell phone stuck to their ear while driving, some even while doing other tasks, like reading, eating, putting on makeup, etc.

This law goes futher ban the use of a cell phone, even with a hands-free device, for any purpose by a driver between the age of 16-18, meaning learner permits (accompanied by an adult) or intermediate permit (daylight). They can't use one period, not even with a hands-free device or speaker phone, even an intergral part of the vehicle as some now are.

The only downside of this law, which we can live with is that it will only be a ticket for any violation, and not noted in your driving record except as a ticket. I can live with that. And now maybe people can begin to actually practice safe driving? I'm not holding my breath as I expect this date to come and go and drivers will continue as they have done all along. Until maybe their first ticket.

We can all hope. The downside is that studies have shown, it's not just cell phones that are the distraction to drivers, but any activity other than driving, whether it's hands-free cell phones, eating, conversations, reading maps, checking instruments or navigation devices, etc. Anything that takes the driver's thinking and attention away is the culprit, cell phones were just the most obvious and dangerous.

But I'll take it.

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