Look out super multi-taskers. As of January 1st, texting while driving is illegal – at least in my home state (Washington). According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, cell phone distractions are responsible for less than one percent of the collisions.
The good news: it’s only a secondary violation, meaning you have to get pulled over first.
The bad news: the greater than 99% causes of collisions are still out there.
The worst news: starting July 1st, talking on your cell phone at all while driving will be illegal unless you use a hands-free device. Hands-free device providers must be excited. Bluetooth even use “Seattle” as the code name for their next generation of hands-free devices.
A lawyer from Chambers Legal in Perth warns that these new laws will become confusing when the lines between technology begin to blur. What happens when people can receive texts on built-in dashboard LCDs, using voice recognition software to send texts, or even right now when a person uses the speaker function on their cell phone instead of a hands-free device? Judges and officers will also have to define what exactly is texting. What about sending or taking pics with your cell phone, or checking your phone for the time or sending pre-drafted or templated messages that require just one or two clicks?
Personally, I think texting while driving is a bit dangerous, though a quick glance to read an incoming text in Seattle’s typical stop-and-go traffic is not a big deal (no worse then loading in a new cd, checking a map, a crying back-seat baby, or a talkative passenger).
I feel the hands-free law is probably over the line. True, it is safer, but I believe the ability to drive while on the cell phone is up to the drivers ability then anything else. If we want to we want to create blanket laws for all drivers, they might as well outlaw drinking coffee, listening to the radio, talking to a passenger, doing make-up (actually, this one should be a law), picking noses, and reading billboards or bumper stickers while driving.