For Consumers

Kreidler: Distracted driving bills would improve safety, auto rates

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March 21, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is advocating for two distracted driving bills that the Washington’s state Legislature is considering.

Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1371, sponsored by Rep. Jessyn Farrell, and Substitute Senate Bill 5289, sponsored by Sen. Ann Rivers, would make more stringent the law about texting and driving. The bills would make it illegal for a driver to hold a hand-held device, such as a cell phone or tablet, while on a public roadway, even when stopped. The fine for the infraction would double for those who are ticketed a second or third time within five years.

“I strongly support the Washington state Legislature’s work to crack down on distracted driving. The data shows that distracted driving accidents are increasing, largely because of cell phones and other electronic devices.

“This is a public-safety issue. Distracted driving isn’t just damaging cars, it’s hurting and killing people – kids, bicyclists, and anyone who isn’t in a car when distracted drivers happen to pass them.

“Furthermore, the increased accident rate is driving up insurance premiums statewide.

“The Washington Traffic Safety Commission released a study of drivers last month that found 9 to 14 percent of drivers were actively using a phone or other device while driving. This is a dangerous statistic. In 2014, distracted driving was a factor in more than 43,000 collisions in Washington state, seven times higher than the number of drivers who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“Strengthening the law and penalties against distracted driving will encourage people to give driving their full attention and save lives. Fewer accidents also help consumers by lowering insurance rates. These bills would improve public safety for everyone.”

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