Does New Distracted Driving Law Go Too Far?

Drinking while driving is rightfully forbidden.

Texting while driving is equally dangerous and against the law nearly everywhere.

But how far should a state go in regulating what a driver may legally do behind the wheel? The state of Washington is testing those limits and has banned some pretty shocking activities while driving, and its citizens aren’t happy.

Who among us has ever enjoyed a coffee while driving? Or scarfed down a quick meal while on the way to a meeting or between errands? Ladies, have you ever applied makeup or even just a quick dab of mascara before arriving at work?

Those activities, or even just taking a sip of water to quench your thirst on a sweltering afternoon drive, are now illegal in Washington.

The original intent of the new law was to put an end to holding a phone while driving. That includes talking on the phone, texting (which was already illegal), entering GPS information, changing music, or anything else that involves holding a phone or doing anything more than pushing a button with one finger. The one exception is using the phone to make a 911 call.

Having a phone in your hand while driving is now a primary offense and will cost drivers $136 for a first offense, and $235 for a second within five years.

The other activities are secondary offenses, which means a driver can’t be pulled over for them, but can be fined for them if caught in conjunction with a primary offense.

Drivers in the state are pretty riled up about the new law and have started a petition to remove the secondary offenses from the law. So far, over 25,000 people have signed.

Washington state trooper Brooke Bova said in a Tweet,

Ok friends, settle down about coffee during AM commute! You need to be committing driving infraction AND eat/drink/smoke to be stopped #bigsigh

Secondary offenses will result in a $99 ticket. For the first six months of the law, which went into effect July 23, drivers will only receive warnings to inform drivers of the changes.

How far should states go to regulate what drivers do behind the wheel?

-tgriffith

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4 Comments

  1. Personally, I’m all for laws that prohibit cell phone use while driving. The safety of my children is very important to me. My cell phone stays in my purse when I’m driving.
    However, it being illegal to take a sip of water on a hot day or enjoy a mocha while I’m driving my daughter to volleyball practice in the morning, that seems a little ridiculous.
    It makes me thankful that I’m rarely driving in Washington.

  2. What about all those idiots that have a pet on their lap?
    How is that not distracting…..:-(

  3. Hell here in Winnipeg Manitoba. People have been ticketed for changing volume on radio. Checking blood glucose meters, and touching themselfs. All at red lights sitting still waiting.

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