New Auburn law fines inattentive drivers

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on December 23, 2013 at 6:41 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 23 at 7:00 PM

AUBURN, Wash. --  A new ordinance in Auburn can fine drivers at least $250 if their full attention isn’t on the road. The law is an attempt by city leaders to address the problem of Inattentive Driving, covering behavior that’s not considered reckless or negligent.

“Anything that draws your focus and attention away from the road fits this ordinance,” said Commander Mike Hirman, Auburn Police.

Examples of behavior that would be illegal under the new ordinance include: texting, eating, putting on makeup, turning towards your child in the backseat or gawking at a car accident.

“We want people to pay attention to the roadway,” said Commander Hirman.

“It’s a great law I totally agree with it,” said Penny Tampico, who lives in Auburn.

Tampico, who was involved in a car accident Monday morning, agrees that inattentive driving is a problem in her community.

“They’re reaching down to answer their phone or looking down to answer a text or they’re reaching back to hand their child a bottle and so therefore they’re distracted,” she said.

The accident will have Tampico without a car for weeks.

“I’m a little shaky a little sore but it’s not fun,” she said.

According to Barrett Stamps, manager of Auburn Collision Center, the law will make people more aware. With up to 10 new customers a day, reasons for crashes vary.

“A lot of times it’s just eating, you know, breakfast on the road they’re in a rush and a lot of times it happens so fast they can’t see it,” he said.

But, seconds of distraction can clock customers a costly bill.

“Easily a couple thousand dollars depending on the damage,” said Stamps.

Tampico warns others: pay attention or pay the price.

“If you’re not paying attention it’s going to happen, and you don’t want to end up like me,” she said.

Law enforcement are exempt from the ordinance only while they’re on duty.

Police will begin enforcing it Christmas Day.

According to a spokesman, the Washington State Patrol praises the City of Auburn for going the extra step and making a new law to make its roads safer.

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