New Distracted Driving Bill Still Allows You To Read Newspaper Behind Wheel
A new bill has passed the state House, now it goes onto Senate for future consideration. But some officials say it doesn't do enough to stop distracted driving.
According to information released by GOP State House Broadcast Coordinator John Sattgast, House bill 1371 doesn't go far enough to keep another 170 Washington drivers from dying on our roads in 2017, like they did last year.
10th District GOP Rep Dan Hayes, from Camano Island, is a Snohomish County Sheriff Sergeant, and he says there are significant loopholes in the bill. It passed the House by a vote of 52-45, with most Representatives voting along party lines. The Democrats control the House, the Republicans the Senate.
According to information released by Hayes and Sattgast, the bill prohibits you from holding your phone, tablet, or other device to talk to people while driving. Texting and driving, and holding your phone to your ear and talking while driving is already illegal.
But Hayes says the scope of 1371 is too narrow, it does NOT prohibit you from laying a map or newspaper across your steering wheel and reading while driving. He proposed adding an amendment to the bill that would have defined 'dangerous distractions' as behaviors the driver engages in that interfere with the safe operation of a vehicle.
As a Sheriff's sergeant, Hayes sees the effects distracted driving often has when he responds to an accident scene.
This much more broad interpretation would include reading a newspaper, using a tablet, playing with a map while driving, or other obvious distractions that could cause a driver to crash. Hayes says this new bill will not stop drivers from being distracted, and will not help lower the death toll caused by distracted driving.
However, Majority Democrats rejected his amendment, and passed the bill as is, still allowing the map, newspaper and other loopholes.