In Washington and Oregon, if you want to talk on your phone while driving, you’re required to use a hands-free device. But now a Washington state lawmaker wants to go further.
Under a new proposal in the Washington state capitol, lawmakers would tighten restrictions on touching your phone altogether.
Back in 2010, Washington lawmakers made it a primary offense to hold your phone or text while driving. This new proposal would mean you couldn’t hold your phone at all while behind the wheel – not even to send a quick text message sitting at a traffic light.
Democratic Senator Tracey Eide was the brain behind the previous law, and is again the sponsor of the new proposal.
“You being behind the wheel of a car scares the heck out of me when you’re using these devices, and its has proven to be a fact that they are very, very dangerous and it’s equivalent to driving drunk,” she says.
Eide’s bill would also double the fines for repeat cell phone offenders, up to $248. That’s still cheaper than the possible $500 fine Oregon can slap on for texting while driving.
States have an incentive to enhance distracted driving regulations. It could earn them federal grants. Those, combined with the increased fines have the potential to generate more money for safety programs around the state.