New Cell Phone Law Soon To Go Into Effect

SPOKANE — Starting July 1st, Washington drivers will have to put down their cell phones or run the risk of getting pulled over.

Lawmakers passed the bill after looking at studies that suggested people talking on their cell phones were four times more likely to be involved in a collision.

“You’ve got a cell phone up to your ear so you’ve got a blind spot behind you depending what side it’s on,” Spokane Police Officer Teresa Fuller says. She also notes that talking on the phone while behind the wheel “takes away one of the hands that react to something that suddenly happens in front of you.”

Starting the beginning of July, the new statute requires drivers in Washington and four other states to use a hands free device if you want to talk on the phone while behind the wheel.

While lawmakers in these states are hopeful that collisions will decrease as more and more drivers follow the new statute, an LA Times article
suggests that the law will accomplish very little. That’s because some experts in the field of transportation safety say that the biggest danger of talking on the phone is not the physical act of holding the device but the emotional weight of the conversation.

Still, legislators and law enforcement personnel are hopeful that any steps to discourage distracted driving will save lives in the long run.

When officers start abiding by the new rules, the infraction will be considered a secondary offense which means officers must see you violate a different law before they can pull you over. However, if you do get stopped and cited for talking on your phone, you will get slapped with a $124 fine.

Hands free car kits are available to connect a call through your car’s stereo system, while headsets come in many different styles and prices, starting at around $10. That’s less than 1/12 the cost of a ticket for breaking the new law.