The Times reports that safety legislation that aims to reduced distracted driving has passed in the House, although less encompassing in form than what originally passed in the Senate. The House bill would limit 16- and 17-year old drivers from using cell phones for calling or texting. Unlike the original Senate bill it does not change driving while talking on a phone without a hands free device from a secondary offense to a primary offense for all other drivers.
The House’s failure to change this just begs drivers to break the law. Its like saying the speed limit is 55 but police can’t give you a ticket unless you are driving 70. Laws must be readily enforceable or else they are pointless. Half measures like this lead to abuse, making it that much harding to change behavior when the law is strengthened. And the state is already seeing abuse of the current secondary offense based law. A PEMCO study shows that over the last 20 months talking on a cell phone without a hands free device has increase from 17% to 43% and 3% to 20% for texting.
What really gets me is quotes like this from Rep. Dan Roach (R-Bonney Lake) “The libertarian in me comes out with these types of issues”… “It’s not a Democrat and Republican issue. It’s a personal-choice issue.” Huh?
Drinking and driving isn’t a personal choice it is a public safety issue. Distracted driving isn’t any different.