A year after Washington made driving while celling illegal, anyone who spends any amount of time out on the road can tell you the law is having little effect. Plenty of drivers are still trying to juggle their phone and the wheel (and sometimes a stick shift and a breakfast sandwich to boot).
NPR reporter Austin Jenkins reports that the State Patrol is also not impressed. It wrote 1,600 tickets for talking on a cell phone and another 230 for texting while driving during the past year. But troopers say drivers are still largely ignoring the law.
That’s largely because the ban is only a secondary offense. Police have to catch drivers doing something else first before they can pull them over and write a ticket for talking on a cell phone.
The Legislature seems to prefer to ease the driving public into new rules by enacting them piecemeal. It took 16 years before the seat-belt law was promoted from a secondary to a primary offense. Let’s hope for everyone’s sakes that it doesn’t take that long to give the cell phone law some teeth.