Driving while phoning laws may get tougher

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by TIM ROBINSON / KING5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on January 6, 2010 at 12:56 PM

SEATTLE - When you talk and drive or text and drive, your driving abilities are about the same as they’d be when you’re legally drunk. That’s what some studies show.

That’s why state senator Tracey Eide (D-Federal Way) is going to introduce new legislation when this year’s session convenes next Monday in Olympia. She wants a complete ban on talking or texting on a hand held device while driving.

"I know how dangerous it is and safety is the issue,” says Eide, who is also taking aim at younger drivers. "We're also making it that anyone who has a learner's permit or an intermediate driver's license cannot use their phones at all."

While it’s widely accepted that driving while phoning is dangerous, some studies show that the issue isn’t so much the phone, as it is the driver’s attention being focused on a conversation. Whatever it is, Eide is determined.

 "It is dangerous, period,” says Eide. “People need to realize, if you don't pay attention, you have the potential of killing people on the road if not yourself."

Senator Eide is, specifically, seeking to make texting or talking on a hand held device while driving a “primary offense.”

Since 2007, it’s been a “secondary offense” to talk or text while driving in Washington. Meaning, unless police stopped you for a primary offense (speeding, etc.), they couldn’t ticket you for using the phone – even if they’d plainly seen that you did, in fact, use the phone.

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