Rep. Farrell's Driving under the influence of electronics bill passes the state House

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Put down that phone
Legislators in the state House of Representatives voted Tuesday to advance legislation that strengthens current distracted driving laws and supports law enforcement protecting the public from dangerous habits behind the wheel.

Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-46, has pushed the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act, saying the law has to reflect how people actually use their electronic devices today.

“This bill is about saving lives,” Farrell said. “We love our phones, and we are just not putting them down. This bill updates our current laws so our police officers can enforce those laws and our roads can be safer for everyone.”

The Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act prohibits the operation of a phone or other personal electronic device while driving if it requires more than one finger. This means even if the device isn’t held up to the ear, it can no longer be held and operated in one hand.

The bill also increases the fine for distracted driving, nearly doubling it for repeat offenses. A repeat distracted driving citation would be reported to a driver’s insurance company, potentially triggering a rate increase.

Public testimony in the House Transportation committee included heart-wrenching stories by family members of loved ones whose lives were lost due to distracted driving-related accidents. These types of deaths have risen sharply in the state since 2014.

“This is about increasing public safety. Statistics show we are going in the wrong direction when it comes to fatal and serious injury collisions,” said Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. 
“Distracted driving is one of many factors that contribute to tragedies on our roadways. I am encouraged by the level of community support this bill has received.”

The bill number is HB 1371. It now heads to the Senate for the consideration.

Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle (46th Legislative District), represents part of King County and the city of Seattle including Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and Lake City.



3 comments:

Anonymous,  March 8, 2017 at 10:32 AM  

It should be noted that this legislation had to be significantly changed to allow for HAM radio users to use their devices for emergency purposes as well as allow for first responders to use their equipment. It was a rushed start that could have been rectified from the onset if this representative had actually sought out the various users and stakeholders rather than create legislation under emotion.

It's also significantly unenforceable in that officers, already busy, have to be able to articulate that they saw a device in a person's hand.

Anonymous,  March 8, 2017 at 4:55 PM  

Another law that won't/can't be enforced often enough to change behaviour. Although - I still wonder why we can't ticket the infractions happening multiple times every day? Not stopping for pedestrians, speeding, too-dark tints in car windows - no right turn on red light - one person in the carpool lane - following too closely -driving your 4-wheeler through the park at night - d.u.i - etc etc - seriously traffic tickets would provide more than enough revenue.

Nanook March 8, 2017 at 5:51 PM  

I would like to see something as simple as turn signal laws being enforced. It has become the norm not the exception for people to randomly point their vehicles in a 90 degree angle to the direction of travel without signaling often crossing four lanes of traffic in the process. I know the operation of the turn signal and the steering wheel at the same time might be a bit of a strain for some folks but if that is the case they should not be driving at all.

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