TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Washington State Bans Text-Messaging and Cell Phone Use While Driving

Washington State Bans Text-Messaging and Cell Phone Use While Driving

Linda Rosencrance, Computerworld (
Mon, 14 May 2007 14:48:17 -0500

But drivers can only be cited for the law if stopped for another
traffic violation.

by Linda Rosencrance

May 14, 2007 (Computerworld) -- Beginning Jan. 1, it will be illegal
for drivers in the state of Washington to read, type or send a text
message from a wireless device while behind the wheel. Motorists also
will be banned from using all but "hands-free" cell phones while

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the law on Friday. The law won't apply to
emergency personnel, tow truck drivers who use wireless devices that
are permanently attached to their vehicles, or drivers using wireless
devices to report illegal activity, call for medical assistance or
other emergencies. Users of "hands-free" devices are also exempt.

Drivers can be cited for breaking the new law only if they have been
stopped for another traffic violation. The fine for violating the new
law could be as high as $250.

According to a survey released earlier this year by Nationwide Mutual
Insurance Co., 37% of so-called Generation Y drivers -- those 23 years
old or younger -- admitted to texting or engaging in instant messaging
while driving, compared with 17% of Gen X drivers (those 24 to 46) and
2% of baby boomers (age 47 to 67).

Washington's legislators proposed the law after an accident involving
a man using his BlackBerry mobile device while driving.

The accident, which occurred in December, was caused by a 53-year-old
man using his BlackBerry while driving a minivan in the express lane
of Interstate 5 near downtown Seattle. According to the Seattle Times,
the man, who was unaware that the traffic ahead of him had stopped,
smashed into the car in front of him, causing a chain reaction
involving three other cars and a bus carrying 28 passengers. No one
was seriously injured in the accident.

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