Washington senator amazed at the distracted driving she sees

Jan 5, 2017, 10:30 AM | Updated: 12:37 pm
Distracted driving, Washington, lawmaker...
(File, Associated Press)
(File, Associated Press)

Republican Sen. Ann Rivers can’t believe some of the things she sees on the road.

“I’m on the freeway all the time and I see the most amazing things,” she says.

No, she’s not talking about the scenery. She’s talking about what people are doing in their vehicles. For example, while driving to Olympia, Rivers says she spotted a woman watching “House of Cards” on her phone. The phone was attached to the steering wheel.

Related: Are Northwest drivers so bad we need regular re-testing?

That’s why Rivers, of La Center, and Democrat Rep. Jessyn Farrell, of Seattle, are drafting a bill that would ban virtually all use of handheld devices by drivers. The bill, which would create what is tentatively being called the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act, would go much further than the state’s current distracted driving law.

Under the current law, drivers caught using their handheld devices receive a $124 ticket that isn’t reported to their insurance. The crimes include texting and talking on the phone without a wireless device.

But Rivers says Washington’s driving law is too outdated.

Under the new law, if approved, the penalty for distracted driving would double or perhaps triple. Drivers would also receive a warning for their first violation. Any violations thereafter would be reported to drivers’ insurance companies, causing their rates to go up, Rivers told Seattle’s Morning News.

Essentially, drivers wouldn’t be able to interact with their mobile devices once they were on the road. There would be a few exceptions, but social media users would have to be without until they stopped driving.

The bill would, Rivers hopes, cut down on distracted driving, which caused nearly 3,500 deaths in the U.S. in 2015.

The Seattle Times reports deaths related to distracted driving in Washington increased from 130 in 2014 to 171 in 2015.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, from 2012 to 2014, a total of 1,336 people died from motor vehicle crashes in the state.

The state has a goal of zero traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries by 2030. But distracted driving is making that goal a difficult one to reach. And Rivers says there is no “magic formula” to get people off their phones.

“I think, if we believe there is any magic to be performed here we are fooling ourselves,” she said. “Basically, what we’re saying to people is this is a serious problem and if you choose to participate in this activity it will have serious and long-lasting repercussions for you.”

A bill by Rivers to bar handheld devices in all but emergencies passed the Senate last year but died in the House. She’s hoping this new bill will have a different fate. She says that, so far, it “seems to be enjoying more support.”

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

Freedom, vaccine mandate...
Dave Ross

Ross: Freedom requires level of unselfishness many in our country don’t have

Total freedom requires a level of unselfishness that doesn't come naturally for a lot of people, as we've seen firsthand with the state vaccine mandate.
20 hours ago
car tabs, Orting...
Dave Ross

Ross: Did you vote for I-976 car tab cuts in 2019? Wish granted

While a vaccine mandate cost the ferry system 7% of its staff, let’s remember this is happening in a state that was ready to impose bigger cuts two years ago.
2 days ago
Dave Ross

Ross: May we live long and prosper with our vaccine choices

Talk show host Dennis Praeger decided to put it all on the line to prove he’s right about vaccines.
3 days ago
Flu vaccine...
MyNorthwest Staff

A new ‘universal’ flu-COVID shot on the horizon, says local MD

Mercer Island’s Dr. Gordon Cohen discusses how future iterations of the COVID mRNA vaccine could also treat seasonal flu.
4 days ago
Crypto power plant...
Dave Ross

Ross: The troubling downside behind megawatts of crypto-power

Power plants feeding Bitcoin miners will create jobs, but they’ll do it by pumping CO2 into the air in service of creating more of the currency.
4 days ago
Dave Ross

Ross: The real reason people don’t want to return to work

The extra unemployment benefits were cut off in September and most states elected not to continue them. Yet, millions of workers are still holding out.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Washington senator amazed at the distracted driving she sees