Today, June 10, is the day Washington’s new cell phone law takes effect and police will be on the lookout for violators. If police see you holding a phone to your ear or texting while driving, they can pull you over. Tickets are $124 and could be more if your distracted driving causes a collision.
But that doesn’t mean police are encouraging drivers to use hands-free devices either. In fact, studies show that talking on a cell phone “with or without a hands-free device” increases the chance of crashing by four times. And cell phone drivers are as impaired as drunk drivers who have a .08-percent blood-alcohol level.
The law is even tougher on teens with intermediate driver licenses or learner permits. They may not use a wireless device at all while driving, including hands-free devices, unless they’re reporting an emergency.
“This law is not meant to encourage the use of hands-free devices,” notes a new state-sponsored website, www.texttalkticket.com “Hands-free devices offer no safety benefit. Parking your phone is the only safe way to drive. Pulling to the shoulder to talk on the phone or text is rarely a safe option and should only be done in an emergency.”