Rep. Carlyle backs new cell phone while driving law

Earlier this week the Washington State House Transportation Committee passed through SB 6345, a new bill that would further prohibit cellphone use while driving, making having a phone in your hand a primary offense subject to traffic stops and a $124 fine, with the sole exception of emergency use only.

In July 2008 legislators made the use of handheld devices while driving a secondary offense, meaning police could only dock you for it if they see another violation before initiating a traffic stop. If passed, this law would make Washington the fifth state to elevate holding a cellphone while driving to a primary offense, alongside the District of Columbia.

36th District Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D), who is behind companion bill HB 2635 that would make texting while driving specifically a primary offense, has thrown his support behind SB 6345.

“I am excited that the House Transportation Committee has passed this bill. Parents and other volunteer citizen activists worked incredibly hard along with Sen. Eide and me for many, many months, and I look forward to doing all that I can to get this bill through the House,” Carlyle said in a written statement.

“We want drivers, and especially teenagers, to know they are not just operating a car, they are behind the wheel of a 3,000-pound weapon, and they have a moral and public obligation to operate them safely. No one likes overregulation, but this is a matter of public safety and we could all do worse than to get on board with Oprah Winfrey’s cause.”

SB 6345 would be even stricter for those with driver’s permits and intermediate licenses, disallowing the use of hands free devices such as headsets and even the speakerphone feature.

Our news partner, the Seattle Times, is reporting that opinions are divided on the regulation of the new bill, and the severity of the penalties. Though proponents cite studies indicating that using a cellphone while driving produces results on par to driving drunk, others believe the act is no more of a distraction than a number of other inappropriate–and unregulated–behind the wheel activities, such as eating, applying makeup and smoking.

Aside from using cellphones as a scapegoat for a lack personal responsibility, many opponents also believe the bill is way for the state to collect more in taxes. From the Seattle Times:

Washington could stand to bring in a lot of revenue. In New York, the first state to make holding a cellphone reason enough for a traffic stop, police from 2001 to 2008 handed out 1.28 million tickets.

“I just think that it is an inappropriate use of police powers to pull people over and invade their privacy because they chose to talk on the phone while driving a car,” said Benton. “You cannot legislate responsibility. Citizens need to be responsible for themselves.”

Read the full Times story here. And tell us, what do you think? Are you for or against making handing a phone while driving a primary offense? (Disclosure: Rep. Reuven Carlyle is a sponsor of MyBallard.)


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idleactivist
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idleactivist

What about putting on makeup?

I'm glad Reuven's pushing this though, rather than an income tax….soft ball politics.

wolfden
Guest
wolfden

Good point idleactivist. I was behind this VW on Aurora Ave N for about 2 miles and the girl in the car was really busy with her makeup. In my opinion this was more dangerous than a cellphone since she was using both her hands at times.

onederfullone
Guest
onederfullone

I wish they would just get serious about distracted driving. It's all distracted driving, it's all dangerous, it's all a joke. I don't care if it's eyeliner, a face full of Whopper, or road noggin on 99. It's all distracted driving, and it isn't enforced, period. Until ALL distracted driving is treated seriously, these actions by our lawmakers just show how ineffective they really are. Monumental fail.
Oh, and it still doesn't affect your insurance rates, which is the real miscarriage of justice. I would double the rates of drivers sited for distracted driving.
Maybe then we'd see an actual decrease in fatalities, not just an increase in revenues.

eddiek
Member
eddiek

Studies show talking on a cell phone as dangerous as drunk driving, and texting and driving as dangerous as being seriously drunk. The proposed law is way too weak, treat it the same as drunk driving, first offense significant fine, second offense loose your license for 6 months, third offense loose your license for good.

wolfden
Guest
wolfden

“I just think that it is an inappropriate use of police powers to pull people over and invade their privacy because they chose to talk on the phone while driving a car,” said Benton. “You cannot legislate responsibility. Citizens need to be responsible for themselves.”

Yea right…People won't do jack till their insurance goes up. I hope this bill becomes a law in less than 7 years.

Gurple
Member

“Until ALL distracted driving is treated seriously, these actions by our lawmakers just show how ineffective they really are. Monumental fail.”

What, really? You seem to care strongly about this issue, and yet you consider legitimate progress on it a “monumental fail”?

What could your legislators possibly do to please you?

atworkcat
Guest
atworkcat

I love how worked up you get over stuff; it makes me laugh.

My question to you: How far will your proposed anti-distraction law go? For instance, if I'm driving along and my mind wanders back to a simpler time…

Where's the line?

I think that some progress is good, and you crapping your pants about what hasn't been done yet is just silliness. Let's celebrate the wins here, shall we?

onederfullone
Guest
onederfullone

The very idea that you consider this to be legitimate progress is laughable.
This is nothing short off a money grab that WILL NOT make you safer.

But, of course, safety is a joke to most of you any how, otherwise, steps by our legislators to increase public safety wouldn't require an additional law, with an additional price tag, another press release, and an 'atta boy' from the ignorant…oh well, clearly I'm in the minority, yet again.

To please me? Simply quit formulating new laws when the existing laws aren't enforced. Quit using 'safety' as a catch phrase to justify new fees, fines, or taxes. Talk about wishful thinking…

onederfullone
Guest
onederfullone

Happy to be of service.
Let's see. If you rear-end someone, most likely you'll get a ticket for following too close.
If you change lanes without realizing it, chances are, you'll get a ticket for not using your blinker.
If you run through a red light, you'll get a ticket for running the red light.
All of these separate infractions, all of these carrying different fines according to some tiered (as in levels of) sense of outrage based on the infraction.
No sense of outrage placed on the underlying cause of each one of the above examples?

If your asking where I'd draw the line? Simply one LARGE fine, for every traffic infraction, under the one true cause. Distracted driving. And yes, tied to your insurance rates.

Of course, legislators drive, and if they drive as poorly as they legislate…

NoraBell
Guest
NoraBell

It's doing it how it should have been done in the first place.

tonygumbrell
Guest
tonygumbrell

I still see people everyday who need to put down the phone and get their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.

atworkcat
Guest
atworkcat

You're implying that the intention to do these crimes was not there. Who's to say that I didn't mean to tailgate or run that red light to save some time? My point is that you cannot legislate thought, only action. The resulting crime is what is illegal, not the intention behind it.

onederfullone
Guest
onederfullone

ah, I see. So the best defense for distracted driving would be intent.
I see the error in my logic now.
So I'd double that fine then. Fair?
Distracted driving, $500 + 1 point.
Criminal intent, $1000 + 2 points.
That makes more sense, thank you!

wolfden
Guest
wolfden

It is human and easy to get distracted. A dead relative, a failed relationship, a lost job, a missed payment…the cause list is long. Putting away the make up kit and the cellphone though are doable things. A cop can see if you have a cellphone in your hand vs being able to sense your distraction over being dumped the night before.

As long as humans drive, distracted driving is unavoidable. Do you even read what you write?

Name
Guest
Name

This is way overdue as is enforcement of all distracted driving laws on the book. It is not either/or. Would you “personal responsibility” folks leave it up to the citizenry to not drive drunk and kill your kids and loved ones? The answer is no. Way to go Reuven.

atworkcat
Guest
atworkcat

Once again you missed the point entirely. If I'm dreaming of a sunny day, I could be distracted, but who's to know? The point is that you cannot fine me for something I did not DO, and so the crime is the ACTION (e.g. running a red light, talking on the cell phone, etc.), not the thought behind it. You cannot make my thoughts a crime.

atworkcat
Guest
atworkcat

Moreover, calling all these crimes (e.g. running a red light, tailgating, talking on a cell phone) the same thing doesn't actually help anything. You'd still have to list all the actions that are considered under this header. Otherwise, who's to say whether I was distracted or just an idiot? It's just silly, really.

onederfullone
Guest
onederfullone

I agree, finally.
It IS silly. ;-)

kim
Guest
kim

eating???

kim
Guest
kim

atwork–

your intending to “save some time.” you just listed you intention.

atworkcat
Guest
atworkcat

Yes, I listed it as an example, but how can anyone else know it if I don't tell them?

kim
Guest
kim

that's what attorney's do every day.

eric
Member
eric

i really hope this goes through – just about everyday on the road i encounter someone who “cannot” signal where they are going because of a phone in their hand. its dangerous and annoying as heck.

“yeah but what about make up, eating, ect etc.” – while these may also be distractions, it has little to do with cell phones. either way, one step at a time.

people are sooo freaking addicted to their phones/texting its actually a bit frightening on a sociological level. to me at least.

Barfly
Guest
Barfly

I guess the antics my future-wife and I pulled off while driving in our youth are still legal? I hope so, I'd hate to be a young man and not enjoy that one while driving.

Not sure I could do them today without pulling a muscle though…or waking the kids in the back.

No doubt Seattle politicians will either ban it or tax it.

Debi
Guest
Debi

i feel sorry for you wife