OLYMPIA, Wash. - A bill that bans holding an electronic device while driving has passed the Washington state Senate.
Senate Bill 5289 passed on a 36-13 vote Monday and now heads to the House for consideration.
Under the measure, drivers would not be allowed to hold a cellphone, tablet or other electronic devices in their hands while driving on a public roadway, including while being stopped in traffic. It would also double the fine for second and subsequent offenses within five years.
"People are either getting rear-ended, they're hitting pedestrians who are crossing the street because they're not looking," State Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle, said.
The changes also make enforcement much easier, she said. It's a big change from the current law which only enforces texting and talking with the phone to your ear.
"If an officer sees a phone in your hand, you can get pulled over, whereas before, the officer had to see the phone, and then that second question: Well, what were you doing?" Farrell said.
However, the bill would allow the use of a finger to activate or deactivate a function of a device, and the use of a built-in touch screen control panel within a vehicle to control basic functions like the radio or air conditioning.
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