On Friday Governor Gregoire signed stronger legislation which bans text messaging as well as talking on a cell phone without a hands free device. I previously wrote about this here, here and here. From the HeraldNet;
“In the end, this is a public safety bill for me,” Gregoire said, surrounded by a small crowd of people including the chief of the Washington State Patrol.
“To those who have said to me that it’s no different than having a cup of coffee, the coffee doesn’t talk back to me. Coffee doesn’t have anything to say to me. A cell phone does,” she said.
“What if I am a young person and my boyfriend or girlfriend is breaking up with me. Am I really concentrating on what I am doing?” she continued. “While I wish we all could be able to talk on a cell phone in a car, I really do, the fact of the matter is, it’s without question a public safety issue.”
The article goes on to say,
In signing the bill, Gregoire said the law will help troopers who have found themselves driving in a marked car on a freeway and seen drivers on their cell phone “looking directly at them, flaunting it.”
When that happens, she said, “There is something wrong with the enforcement capacity of Washington State Patrol. I find that troubling.”
Secretary Ray LaHood, which has been an unassuming champion of this cause since he was appointed, has been holding up Washington State as a model of what the rest of the country needs to do. AT&T has kicked off a public education campaign and the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission which has been active on this issue will as well. As someone who has been rear-ended by someone distracted by their phone as well as a bicyclist whose safety relies on the attentiveness of drivers, this legislation is a huge step in the right direction. It certainly isn’t the end all but it will undoubtedly increase the safety of all road users in Washington State. A big thanks to Senator Eide for being such a strong champion of this safety legislation over the past few years.