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Hold The Wheel, Not The Phone: Washington Lawmakers Drive For New Rules On The Road

Kevin Mooney
Northwest News Network
A bill that would ban the use of handheld devices while driving has been introduced in the Washington Legislature.

In Washington state, there’s no law to keep you from checking Facebook while you drive. But that could change during this year’s legislative session. Lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday that could force you to cut down your phone use on the road -- or pay a hefty fine if you get caught.

State Rep. Jessyn Farrell said the bill is a response to an increased number of reported deaths tied to distracted driving.

“We’re really seeing this upswelling of interest in figuring out how we close loopholes around this law and make our roads safer,” Farrell said.

The bill seeks to update current law and make it easier for law enforcement officers to pull over distracted drivers. It would increase fines for breaking the law and potentially report a second violation to the driver’s insurance company.

Bills like this have been proposed before, but they haven’t made it through the legislature. Farrell said this year is different.

“I think legislators are seeing the impacts as they’re commuting to Olympia, as their constituents are being impacted and calling on them to pass this legislation,” Farrell said. “So things are changing.”

The bill has not yet been scheduled for a committee hearing.