Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Forward & WA State Texting Legislation

Spring Forward
Just a reminder for everyone to Spring Forward this weekend - Move you clocks forward one hour either before you go to bed on Saturday or first thing when you wake-up on Sunday. Sorry, that means you lose and hour of sleep.

This weekend is also a great time to check batteries in your smoke detectors, emergency flashlights and radios.

WA State Texting Legislation
Contributed by Tom Odegaard, Execitve Director, Evergreen Safety Council
On March 11, 2010, Washington’s Legislature approved a measure that makes it a primary offense to be caught holding a cell phone to your ear while driving, or to be reading, writing or sending text messages.

If Gov. Chris Gregoire signs the bill, it will become effective 90 days after adjournment of this legislative session. Police will then be able to issue a citation to anyone seen driving and texting or talking without a headset and give them a $124 ticket.

Passage of this bill makes Washington one of 6 states that make talking on a cell phone a primary traffic offense and one of 20 who have laws against texting while driving.
Senate Bill 6345 strengthens the state's current secondary-offense law for both, which only allowed police to issue an additional fine if they pulled over a driver for another infraction, such as speeding.

Highlights of the bill are:
· Outlaws any cell phone use by a driver with a learner's permit or an intermediate license, which is given to drivers under 18 years old;
· Outlaws use of a cell phone without a hands-free device for all drivers;
What does “Hands Free” mean? "hands-free mode" means the use of a wireless communications device with a speaker phone, headset, or earpiece.
· Dialing a phone is not considered text messaging.

Exceptions to the law:
· A person operating -
1. Authorized Emergency Vehicle
2. Tow Truck responding to a disabled vehicle
· Transit or for-hire vehicle if relaying information that is time sensitive between a transit operator and that operator's dispatcher, in which the device is permanently affixed to the vehicle
· A moving motor vehicle using a hand-held wireless communications device to :
1. Report illegal activity
2. Summon medical or other emergency help
3. Prevent injury to a person or property
· People using a hearing aid
· Voice-Operated global positioning or navigation system that is affixed to the vehicle and that allows the user to send or receive messages without diverting visual attention from the road or engaging the use of either hand

A ticket for this infraction will not become part of a driver's record or be submitted to insurance companies or employers.

View a copy of SB 6345 as passed by the legislature here.

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