It may only be a week into the new year, but multiple states are already looking to implement stricter distracted driving laws in 2017.
Texas does not currently have any statewide distracted driving bans, only a partial ban, one of only four states that does not have widespread legislation on the matter. However, over 90 provinces have individually passed ordinances prohibiting texting and driving, and the state’s partial ban prohibits phone use for drivers younger than 18, school bus drivers or drivers who are on school property.
Considering that some of the most deadliest highways are located in Texas, and that over 100,000 crashes occur on the state’s roadways due to distracted driving each year—it’s a good thing that state representatives are trying once again. The bill calls for a statewide ban and increased fines for texting and driving, higher than the current $200 to $500. This legislative session, which begins January 10, will mark the fourth year that Texas state representatives have proposed this bill.
Additionally, while Washington State currently bans handheld phone use for all drivers, state representatives are gearing up for an even harsher bill. The proposed bill, entitled “Driving Under the Influence of Electronics”, bans virtually all use of mobile phones by motorists. Washington’s distracted driving laws are now a decade old and they do not account for the now commonplace apps such as Snapchat, Google Maps, Facebook Live and Twitter. The new law would call for harsher fines and ban all handheld phone use of any kind while driving. The bill would also place infractions on a driver’s record, which could lead to auto insurance rate increases. Currently, texting or cell phone violations are kept off of motorist’s driving records. Read more about the proposed bill here.
Similar to Washington State, Oregon currently bans handheld phone use for all drivers. The state’s new proposed bill would increases the fines for distracted driving and include prison time as a punishment. Someone caught driving distracted for a first offense could spend up to a year in prison, face up to a $6,250 fine or both. A motorist with multiple violations within 10 years could face up to 5 years in prison or $125,000 fine. The Senate President stated that there is a distracted driving crash every two-and-a-half hours in Oregon and that the state must take the behavior more seriously. Read more at KOIN 6 News.