Drivers need to put down their phones and drive or risk being fined under new law

July 20, 2017

New Distracted Driving Law

Effective July 23, , Washington drivers will not be permitted to hold or operate hand-held electronic devices while they are driving. Use of devices such as cell phones, tablets, video-games and laptops to text, access information, take pictures and talk, even while stopped in traffic, is prohibited under the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (DUIE) Act. “Hands-free” devices such as mounted dashboard screens and Bluetooth can be used legally, but only with a single touch to start use.

*Exemptions include drivers using a personal electronic device to contact emergency services; certain transit employees and commercial drivers (within the scope of their employment) and drivers operating authorized emergency vehicles.

In the U.S., distracted driving caused 3,477 traffic deaths in 2015, a 9 percent increase from the year before, and “a deadly epidemic,” according to the National Safety Council. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC), 71 percent of distracted drivers are engaging in the most dangerous distraction, using their cell phones behind the wheel. The new law in Washington is part of Target Zero, a statewide initiative to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Washington’s roadways to zero by the year 2030.

Currently, texting or holding a cellphone to the ear while driving carries a fine of $124 in Washington State. Starting July 23, using a hand-held device while driving will be considered a primary offense and law enforcement will be issuing fines $136-$234 to violators. In addition, a citation will be added to your driving record and reported to insurance providers. You can also receive a $99 ticket for other types of distractions such as grooming, smoking, eating, or reading if the activity interferes with safe driving, and you are pulled over for another traffic offense.

The WTSC recommends the following tips for complying with the new law:

  1. Turn off your phone and put it in the glove box
  2. If you’re a passenger, hold the driver’s phone
  3. Don’t text or call a friend or loved one if you know they are driving
  4. If using GPS on your phone, plug in the address before you start the car and use a mounted phone holder
  5. Talk to family members (especially teen drivers) about the risks of cell phone use. Model responsible behavior by not using your phone while in the car

For more information about the new law visit http://www.wadrivetozero.com/distracted-driving.


Everyone Has a Responsibility to Keep Motorcyclists Safe

June 9, 2014
Be sure to look out for motorcycles.

Be sure to look out for motorcycles.

OLYMPIA—Summer is here and the Department of Licensing, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, and the Department of Transportation are reminding drivers of cars, trucks and buses to look out for, and share the road with, motorcycle riders.

 
To raise awareness about tragic but preventable motorcycle crashes, 17 large road signs are scheduled to be installed this summer in locations across Washington where fatal motorcycle crashes are highest. These signs should remain in place for 10 to 15 years.
 
“Increasing safe motorcycle riding and cooperation among all road users is essential to reaching Washington’s goal of zero traffic deaths by 2030,” Governor Jay Inslee said. “Motorists and motorcyclists are all responsible for making sure everyone arrives home safely.”
 
In Washington, motorcycle deaths are not steadily declining like overall traffic deaths. Motorcycles make up just 4 percent of the registered vehicles on our roads, but account for almost 15 percent of the traffic fatalities (2009-2011 average). Even worse, in 2012, motorcycle fatalities accounted for 19 percent (83 out of 438) of the total traffic fatalities in our state.
 
On a per-vehicle-mile basis, motorcyclists are more than 30 times more likely to die in a crash than occupants of cars, and five times more likely to be injured. Speeding, running off the road, and riding under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are the main contributing factors in these crashes. Motorcyclists should always ride sober and within the posted speed limits, get the required training and endorsement, and wear DOT compliant helmets and protective gear.

Governor Inslee joins others governors in proclaiming May as Motorcycle Awareness Month

May 8, 2014

Motorcycle-Awareness-Month-procIn 2013, 73 motorcycle riders in our state were killed in collisions.

Governor Jay Inslee’s proclamation making May our state’s Motorcycle Awareness Month is designed to:

  • promote caution and recognition of motorcycles on Washington roads and highways.
  • reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities associated for all motor vehicles.
  • encourage riders to participate in rider education programs.

As motorcycles are smaller and less visible than most other vehicles, they can be more difficult to see. Reducing distracted diving and eliminating impaired driving will help operators see motorcyclists and give them the space they need.

Your Washington Motorcycle Safety Program encourages all vehicle operators to follow the rules of the road including obeying speed limits, following distance, signaling intentions, and yielding the right-of-way.

With spring turning to summer, the number of motorcyclists on our roads will be increasing.

Washington riders are our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters.

A moment more of attention could help save a rider’s life.  That rider could be a family member or friend.

Look Twice – Save A Life.