I know this is fairly old news, but since Washington police officers are now issuing citations for “driving under the influence of electronics”, I thought I would remind everyone of the law that prohibits texting while driving. But wait, there’s more!
A year ago, Washington legislators celebrated becoming the first state in the nation to ban the use of hand-held devices (almost) entirely while driving. Since Washington was the first state to ban texting while driving, they surely needed to be the first state to ban other death-defying acts like taking selfies while driving, watching videos while driving, checking the weather while driving, and so on. Oh yeah, and they banned checking your phone while you’re at a stop light.
You can read the full text of the law here, but this is the relevant part:
A person who uses a personal electronic device while driving a motor vehicle on a public highway is guilty of a traffic infraction… “Use” or “uses” means: (i) Holding a personal electronic device in either hand or both hands; (ii) Using your hand or finger to compose, send, read, view, access, browse, transmit, save, or retrieve email, text messages, instant messages, photographs, or other electronic data; however, this does not preclude the minimal use of a finger to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of the device; (iii) Watching video on a personal electronic device. “Driving” means to operate a motor vehicle on a public highway, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays. “Driving” does not include when the vehicle has pulled over to the side of, or off of, an active roadway and has stopped in a location where it can safely remain stationary.
There are some confusing exceptions for emergency calls, transit workers, and commercial drivers.
So, if you don’t want to pay extra taxes in the form of traffic citations or watch your insurance rates go up, please don’t text or check your phone while you’re at the stop light. Oh, and don’t hug anyone while you’re driving. Yes, that’s the law, too.