State Senate votes to ban holding phones while driving

The new language makes it virtually impossible for you to even pick up your cell phone while you're driving, stopped in traffic, or at an intersection.

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.

Related: Distracted driving penalties could increase statewide

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.

Copyright 2017 KING


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