The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Washington Drivers Support Legislation to Limit Cell Phone Usage While Driving

April 16, 2007

SEATTLE – Eighty-five percent of Washington state drivers believe that talking on a cell phone while driving should be legal only with a hands-free device, or made illegal altogether, according to the 2007 PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll. The poll, which surveyed 600 Washington drivers, shows that two-thirds believe that talking on a cell phone while driving should be a primary offense, meaning drivers could be cited even if they are not violating other laws.Under legislation proposed by Sen. Tracey J. Eide, D–Federal Way, currently pending, it would become a secondary offense to talk on a cell phone while driving, meaning the driver would have to commit another infraction to be cited. The ticket would cost drivers $101 and it would not be reported to insurance companies.In a 2005 PEMCO poll, 81 percent of Washington drivers said talking on the phone while driving should be illegal, or legal only with a hands-free device. In the current poll, that figure rose to 85 percent. Also, 34 percent of people today “often” or “sometimes” use a cell phone while driving compared to 19 percent in 2005.Similar bills already have passed in California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, D.C., that limit cell phone usage to hands-free devices while driving. Utah’s law goes into effect June 29.Also under review in Olympia is House Bill 1214, which bans the use of cell phones to send text messages while driving. According to the PEMCO poll, 91 percent of Washington drivers believe that text messaging while driving should be illegal. The poll, which surveyed 600 Washington drivers, shows that two-thirds believe that talking on a cell phone while driving should be a primary offense, meaning drivers could be cited even if they are not violating other laws.
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