By Tony Sermonti
If you’re driving on the freeway, you can travel more than the length of a football field in the time it takes to read a short text message.
For the past few years, if police pulled you over for a traffic infraction, they also could ticket you if you were holding your cell phone and talking. Now, talking on your cell phone could be the violation that gets you pulled over to begin with.
Starting on June 10, talking or sending text messages while holding a wireless device will carry a $124 fine, after legislation signed today by Gov. Chris Gregoire that changes the current cell phone law into a primary traffic offense.
Since 2007, holding a cell phone while operating a moving vehicle has been a secondary offense, meaning that officers could only ticket drivers pulled over for another violation. The new law adds hands-on cell phone use as a violation that officers can treat as a primary offense.
Quick facts about cell phone use while driving:
- A driver talking on a cell phone is as impaired as a driver with a .08 blood-alcohol level.
- A driver who is texting is as impaired as a driver with a .16 blood-alcohol level. That’s double the legal limit.
- Drivers talking on cell phones are half a second slower to hit the brakes in emergencies and miss more than half the visual cues seen by attentive drivers.