A petition to rewrite Washington state’s new distracted driving law is evidence that drivers are spending too much time stuck in traffic.
Angela Cruze, the author of the petition on change.org, argues that the law should not include eating, drinking (non-alcoholic beverages I presume), grooming, or smoking.
Under the new distracted driving law, which went into effect on Sunday, someone who is distracted by the aforementioned activities risks being hit with a $99 fine.
Cruze writes that it “should be a citizen’s right when behind the wheel and feel this law needs to have more of the people’s response then having our elected officials make decision without consent from the people.
“We understand the law permits tickets as a secondary offense.”
Secondary offense is the key there. As previously reported, drivers won’t be pulled over just for eating or drinking while driving.
“If you’re eating your foot-long and we’re behind you and you’re drifting out of your lane trying to keep the mustard from falling on your lap, that is a primary offense if you’re violating the lane travel law,” Washington State Trooper Rick Johnson previously said.
But this petition is about more than just people who don’t want to be caught for weaving in and out of traffic because they spilled coffee in their lap. It’s about drivers who already feel the burden of their commute not wanting to feel even more restricted behind the wheel.
An annual report from the Washington State Department of Transportation says that in 2015, there were 189 miles of routinely congested segments of state roadway. Hours of delay across all urban commute corridors statewide increased by 42.1 percent in two years; from 6.8 million hours in 2013 to 9.6 million hours in 2015.
Total congestion on the five monitored freeway corridors in the Central Puget Sound region increased by 35.7% between 2013 and 2015, surpassing 2007 pre-recession levels for the second consecutive year.
Between 2013 and 2015, congestion became worse on I-5, I-405, and I-90. Blame has been placed on the population increase. In addition, about three-quarters of Washington drivers admit to commuting to work alone.
If travel times in the state, especially the Puget Sound region, weren’t as bad, complaints about a law that can ticket you for eating and drinking while driving would be baseless. Because between the time you leave your house to the time you get to work would, ideally, be minimal.
Unfortunately, we live in an area where our roadways can only be expanded by so much and so quickly. Until more people choose to use alternative modes of transportation, we will be dining with millions of other people trying to get home.