ADVOCACY ALERT: HELP PREVENT TEXTING AND DRIVING AND BRING WA INTO COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL STANDARDS – ASK YOUR SENATORS TO CONTACT SENATOR JOE FAIN To BRING SSB 6227 TO A VOTE BEFORE TUESDAYand to VOTE YES THEMSELVES ON THE BILL.
We want to alert you to SSB 6227 that is moving through the legislature – a bill that could save countless lives, prevent injury, and help to change an increasingly common dangerous behavior among Washington drivers – handheld cell phone use and texting while driving. It would also bring WA into compliance with federal standards, making our state eligible for important highway safety funding, for public safety activity to prevent distracted driving.
Please contact your Senator and ask him/her to contact Senator Fain asking that SB 6227 be brought to a vote this weekend! Then when it comes to a vote that they support it also. This bill must be out of the Senate by 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18 to make it to the House of Representatives. Find your Senator here: Legislator Look-Up. You can find your Senator’s email here: https://dlr.leg.wa.gov/
In WA, a new study is showing that cell phone use while driving is increasingly common – 8% of all drivers in counties studied – and that hands-free technology has not yet become the norm among drivers using cell phones. Texting is also more prevalent than previously thought – nearly half of distracted drivers were texting. Crash risk from texting while driving is 23 times higher than driving text-free, comparable to a blood-alcohol limit of .19. Motor vehicle injuries remain the leading cause of death for Americans under 35 years of age and estimates suggest that up to 28% of crash risk is attributable to cell phone use or text messaging in vehicles. While the use of cell phones in the U.S. has grown exponentially, enforcement of distracted driving laws has struggled to keep pace.
WA is ineligible for federal funding due to loopholes in our current state law. SSB 6227 brings WA into compliance with federal standards by removing exemptions for types of handheld use and clarifying that any manipulation of a device is covered (think: posting to Facebook, Instagram). Distracted driving questions will be added to the driver’s licensing exam. Fines for second time offenses will be doubled. These changes strengthen our state’s law and have the potential to prevent hundreds of injuries and deaths each year. As phones act more like mini-computers, the time is right to ensure that all drivers know the law, follow the law and that we set good examples for our future drivers.
Contact your Senator by email today (or by phone-I know some of you have their direct #’s)and ask him/her to bring SSB 6227 to a vote; we can’t afford to wait another year to address this important public health and public safety issue. Protect passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists an drivers by strengthening WA’s law – mirroring our neighbor states (OR & CA). Contact your Senator today!