Lawmakers seek to ban use of handheld devices by drivers

by: The Associated Press Updated:

A man writes a text message on his mobile phone while driving in traffic (Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)
Some state lawmakers are pushing to toughen Washington's decade-old distracted-driving laws.
 
The Seattle Times reports that two lawmakers are drafting a bill that seeks to ban virtually all use of handheld devices by motorists. It's tentatively called the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act.
 
“Don’t hold it in your hand. Don’t poke at it,” Farrell told The Seattle Times.
 
Washington law bars texting and using a cellphone while holding it to the ear.
 
But Democrat Rep. Jessyn Farrell of Seattle and Republican Sen. Ann Rivers of La Center want to prevent people from picking up their phone and tweeting or looking at Instagram, Snapchat or other social media.
 
Rivers also wants increased fines for using handheld devices behind the wheel and citations to be reported to courts and insurance companies.
 
The $124 fine for using handheld devices behind the wheel could be increased to $350. 
 
A bill by Rivers to bar handheld devices in all but emergencies passed the Senate last year but died in the House.
 
In Washington, distracted-driving deaths jumped from 130 in 2014 to 171 in 2015.

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