Effective immediately “hands-free” devices are required for talking while drivingBY CHUCK TUCK | JOURNAL REPORTER Holding your cell phone up to your ear while driving is now an illegal act in the State of Washington. Talking on a cell phone has become such a habit, that it may be difficult to change the habits of many drivers who continue to talk on their phones while driving without the use of a “hands-free” device.
For most drivers, a day doesn’t go by that you won’t see someone driving and holding a phone up to their ear, and seemingly oblivious to the other cars around them.
A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted from April 2002 to July 2004 gave the first solid evidence of the effects of cell phone use on injury crashes.
The IIHS discovered that drivers using phones were four times more likely to be involved in crashes that were serious enough to injure themselves.
The studies were conducted on vehicular accident victims from hospital emergency rooms.
Readers are reminded that as of yesterday July 1, 2008, RCW 46.61.667 went into effect whereas using a wireless communications device while driving without a “hands-free” apparatus such as a wireless Bluetooth headset or corded earplug is now guilty of a traffic infraction.
Under section 4 of the new law, if your communication device (cell phone) has a speaker phone built into it, you are legal to use it while driving.
Section (6) reads that the enforcement of the law is only secondary, and violators cannot be pulled over or detained solely for this violation.
As a secondary violation, the violator can only be pulled over if they are suspected of another violation and then ticketed for the secondary violation.
The violation of the new “hands-free” law will not become a part of a driver’s record.
The following is taken directly from RCW 46.61.667
(2) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply to a person operating:
(a) An authorized emergency vehicle, or a tow truck responding to a disabled vehicle;
(b) A moving motor vehicle using a wireless communications device in hands-free mode;
(c) A moving motor vehicle using a hand-held wireless communications device to:
(i) Report illegal activity;
(ii) Summon medical or other emergency help;
(iii) Prevent injury to a person or property;
(d) A moving motor vehicle while using a hearing aid.
The best thing for anyone to do is put the phone down while driving.
If you have to make a call, obey the law and use a “hands-free” device.