The Distracted Driving Awareness Month is coming to an end, and going with the spirit of the month, states and counties all over the United States have introduced even more stringent measures to curb cell phone usage while driving. For instance, Cowlitz County opted to increase the number of patrols on its highways in an attempt to nab motorists using their cell phones while driving.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission’s website, the organization behind the Distracted Driving Awareness program, goes on to state that distracted driving is not only limited to using a cell phone while driving a car. It also includes distracting activities such as feeding a disk into the car’s CD player.
Therefore, in future Washington State cell phone laws, you are breaking the law by operating your CD player while driving. Furthermore, inference on other distracting activities as by the website might point to the fact that the law on cell phone usage might extend to other activities that take the driver’s eyes from the road.
How The Law Against Cell Phones Stands Today in Washington
As things stand today, the state of Washington only forbids texting and calling with a cell phone while driving. Nevertheless, motorists are allowed to use hands-free devices, wireless devices or cell phones with loudspeakers when they are driving. Note that learners and intermediate drivers are not allowed to use cell phones in any form while driving.
There are also special circumstances where motorists can use cell phones even when they are behind the wheel. If motorists want to report an ongoing criminal activity, summon emergency services, they can do so without fearing legal reprimand.
With the Senate finally passing a Bill that bans cell phone use while driving early this year, it is clear that most lawmakers want to ban cell phone usage in cars completely. The Bill has been submitted to the Senate year in year out since 2007. It only passed the House and the Senate this year.
While passing the bill, a Senate member noted that it is no longer sufficient to fine offenders (motorists using cell phones while driving). The Senate member went on to say that talking on a cell phone with one hand on the wheel is equally distracting as texting with a cell phone.
The gist of the Bill is to forbid all manner of mobile use on roads. Therefore, drivers might have to contend with the fact that in the near future, even using wireless headsets or built-in phone receivers in their cars might become illegal.
Parting Remarks about The Future of Cell Phone Use
The fight against cell phone seems to have intensified, especially after Wisconsin lawmakers recently took steps to regulate cell phone use while driving. Wisconsin was among some states that still allowed free use of cell phones while driving.
After the Bill, however, it appears that the State will join others who actively curb cell phone use in cars. Therefore, expect cell phone laws to get tougher in Washington. It will come as no surprise if offenders end up serving jail time in the future.
Gerald McCain is a legal expert in Washington. He has a knack for uncovering changing legal trends, especially Washington State cell phone laws and blogs regularly on the topic. When he’s not writing, Gerald spends his time driving around the State meeting new people.