BLPD Traffic Emphasis – April 2018

     Bonney Lake Police Department

TRAFFIC EMPHASIS OF THE MONTH

APRIL, 2018        Distracted Driving 

During the month of April 2018, Officers will be conducting a special traffic enforcement emphasis looking for motorists that drive while distracted. Officers will emphasize enforcing the cell phone use laws. Mobile phone use while driving is common but widely considered dangerous. Due to the number of collisions that are related to cell phone use while driving, the State of Washington has made the use of a cell phone without a hands free device as well as texting while driving illegal.

Washington State’s New Distracted Driving Law

Washington’s new distracted driving law went into effect on July 23, 2017. The law makes it illegal to use a handheld personal electronic device while driving, even if you’re stopped at a traffic sign/signal or stuck in traffic. Here’s what you need to know:

What’s now illegal:

  • Holding a personal electronic device.Using a hand or finger to compose, send, read, view, access, browse, transmit, save, or retrieve electronic mail (email), text messages, instant messages, photographs or other electronic data.
  • Watching a video on your device.

Exceptions:

  • When your vehicle is pulled over to the side of (or off of) the road and has stopped in a location where it can safely remain stationary.
  • If you need to contact emergency services.
  • The minimal use of a finger to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of a device.

What’s still legal – but not safe:

  • Using hands-free personal electronic devices and devices that are integrated into your vehicle.*

*According to AAA research, the use of hands-free devices and voice-activated systems is just as distracting as use of a hand-held cell phone. So, while the law will help reduce distracted driving, it still doesn’t prohibit all dangerous distractions.

Consequences:

  • The first infraction is a $136 fine.
  • The infraction will be reported to your insurance company.
  • Second and subsequent tickets within a five year period will double the penalty, which could result in a $235 fine.

In addition to targeting electronic devices, the new law also makes illegal a variety of other “Dangerously Distracted” driving practices. The Dangerously Distracted section of the new law includes banning ANY activity not related to driving that interferes with the safe operation of your vehicle as a secondary offense. Examples might include: eating, spilling your coffee, your dog on your lap, putting on makeup or shaving. While you can’t be pulled over for these non-driving related distractions, if the distraction contributes to you to committing a traffic violation, such as crossing the centerline or following too close, then you can receive an additional $99 fine for being dangerously distracted.

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