Put down the phones and the food. Distracted driving laws are changing | KUOW News and Information

Put down the phones and the food. Distracted driving laws are changing

Jul 7, 2017

A change in a Washington state law aims to crack down on distracted driving. It takes effect on July 23.

The current law prohibits texting or holding a cell phone to your ear. The new law prohibits using any electronic handheld device when driving, even if the car is stopped at a traffic light.

Having a phone in your hand while driving could cost you $136 under the new law.

Doug Donovan works at the University of Washington. He said he’s used his phone behind the wheel too many times.

“My wife’s always telling me, 'Put the phone down! Put the phone down!'” Donovan said.

Past years have seen more distracted driving, according to Washington State Patrol Trooper Rick Johnson.

“It seems to continue to get more and more as phones get smarter,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of distractions and you know, it’s not just cell phones.”

Donovan can speak to that.

“I pulled out into a lane where there was a car coming and the car hit me,” he said. “But it was my fault and I was distracted because I was reaching over to grab the sandwich from the seat.”

Under the new law, if caught doing things like grooming, smoking or eating while violating another traffic law, that’s a $99  ticket.

Washington State Patrol won’t enforce the new law until January. However, the new legislation officially takes effect later this month.