A new bill in the Washington State Senate will stop citizens from being able to touch or hold their cell phone while driving, even to call 9-11.
Senate Bill 5656 calls for a ban on all handling of a cell phone while driving, sitting at traffic lights or stop lights. In addition to not being allowed to text and talk on your phone you will now not be allowed to e mail, enter phone numbers, touch, handle or pull up websites on your device.
The new law is supposed to encourage you to use hands free devices for all users of cell phones in your car.
If you are fortunate enough to have a newer vehicle with these features built into your vehicle you will be allowed to use them, if you have the means to purchase after market hands free systems these will also be legal to use. If you happen to have a vehicle with a noisy interior you will find these hands free devices to be useless. Your only option is to purchase a newer quieter vehicle or pull over to the side of the road to talk. The option to use a headset is also in question. As you will no longer be able to type in or select a number without voice control these will also be outlawed.
Meanwhile, eating, drinking, smoking, putting on makeup, reading and tending to your children will still be allowed as long as you are not distracted while doing so. All of the other distracted driving offenses are handled under our regular distracted driving laws with the exception of cell phones.
Why is Washington State enacting these stringent proposals? Federal Grant money… so it is not really about public safety it is about making Federal dollars available to our state.