“Hang up and drive”: Enforcement starts next week

Not West Seattle-specific but worth a reminder: The State Patrol is launching publicity this week to remind all drivers that troopers plan to start enforcing the “hands-free law” July 1st (one week from tomorrow. Drivers holding cell phones to their ears could face $124 fines – unless you were calling 911 to report “a highway emergency.” WSP will be partnering with at least one mobile-phone company at a media event this week to point out that it’s easy to set your phone up so you can talk “hands-free” while you drive, if you need to.

15 Replies to ""Hang up and drive": Enforcement starts next week"

  • mike June 23, 2008 (10:52 am)

    I thought driving while talking on the phone was a secondary offense? Did the law change?

  • k June 23, 2008 (10:57 am)

    i am thrilled about this one!

  • Marge June 23, 2008 (11:02 am)

    It is a secondary offense, and it’s going to be the most unenforcebale law ever written. I’m be completely shocked if all the drivers I see use there cell phones go hands free. (not holding my breathe.)

  • westseattledood June 23, 2008 (11:07 am)

    I’m with ya’, k.

    It would be SOOOO great if folks also bear in mind that talking on phones while negotiating parking lots is also a problem. Irritating, to say the least.

  • OP June 23, 2008 (11:28 am)

    It still won’t cure the Northwest of its gloriously awful drivers, but it’s a step in the right direction. And it’s pretty enforceable. Example: I’m a cop and I see you doing 40 in a 35 zone (aka Fauntle-rut-roy) while yapping on your cell, bam, I hit the lights.

    Though I do wish the law was a primary offense like it is in New York.

  • toomanyratsinacageakaWS June 23, 2008 (12:01 pm)

    Why stop at cell phones? The law or lar should be expanded to include other things “good” drivers do while “driving.”

  • GreenSpaces June 23, 2008 (12:20 pm)

    I found a high quality wireless blue tooth headset that actually WORKS. I work out of my car a lot and the small headsets that go in your ear are just crap. I bought a headset designed for professional truck drivers. It goes over my head like a regular headset and has a boom mic and doesn’t rely on jaw bone vibrations. It’s for windy and noisy conditions. It’s still not perfect, but it’s the best thing I have ever used. Blue Parrott – it took weeks to get it (backordered) but was worth the wait. http://www.blueparrott.com/products/parrottbp100.html

  • J June 23, 2008 (3:08 pm)

    GreenSpaces: Please keep in mind that hands-free may be legal, but it’s almost as dangerous as holding a cell phone. The part of the brain that processes visual information (critical for driving) gives priority to conversations. So you’re driving impaired even if your hands are free. Like driving under the influence, you may be under the impression you are not impaired even when you are.

    I worry that this law gives uninformed people the idea that talking on a hands-free cellphone is safe. The research shows otherwise, and because people tend to believe they are good enough drivers to compensate–even bad drivers believe they’re good drivers–we are all at risk from distracted drivers.




    Cell phones are only one serious distraction, but they’re one of the worst, and entirely avoidable. Your conversation does not trump my safety. You think you’re an exception to this–most people do–but you’re not!

  • GreenSpaces June 23, 2008 (4:09 pm)

    I’ve always believed that all passengers should also be banned from vehicles. Not only do you talk to them, you also turn your head to LOOK at them. Dangerous and stupid. The worst are the mini van drivers with a vehicle full of screaming wriggling kids – you think the driver is looking forward, but they are really looking in the rearview mirror and yelling – conversation at the top of their lungs.

    I am not uninformed, just practical. You try working out of your car and getting anything done and then come talk to me. I’ve never been in an accident where I wasn’t the victim and I have never had a ticket. I never claimed my conversation was more important than your safety. That’s an inflammatory comment meant to spurn an argument. I don’t know anyone else who has spent over $100 on a headset that worked instead of just using the freebie piece of crap like what you probably got with YOUR phone. I won’t have any temptations to touch the handset with a headset that works.

    Go lecture someone else.

  • angelescrest June 23, 2008 (5:14 pm)

    You make a convincing point. Kids are terrible distractions–try keeping your wits about you when a baby is screaming full throttle. The cell phone is a huge distraction for many; my guess is they’re easily distracted, lousy drivers anyway. I am really bugged by the lack of distance drivers in West Seattle keep between cars, and I don’t know if the cell phone causes them to inch up closer, or they’d be doing it anyway. Try Admiral in the morning or the afternoon, or the bridge…And, yep, we watched one SUV-driving woman, cell phone attached to jaw go right through the infamous crosswalk at the Alki Dispatch while there were people crossing and I was stopped waiting in the other direction.
    Would she have stopped without the phone?

  • JanS June 23, 2008 (7:12 pm)

    distractions that I am guilty of…cell phone (I now refuse to speak on it when I’m driving. Nothing is that important that it can’t wait for 10 or 15 minutes), food, radio, lipstick, passenger. I have been driving for 37 years, have had one ticket..lol..speeding on Admiral at 38th, 10 miles over. I now try to avoid these things in my car, because I’m not as worried about me as I am about those around me…but maybe you should be (worried about me, I mean – lol). I try to take as much responsibility as I can when on the road to drive defensively, to pay attention. I don’t have to drive much , so I’m lucky.

    Greenspaces…can you possibly time your day so you can stop at strategic places, and make your calls from there? I use my cell for my business also, but have found that the voicemail aspect of it works really, really well. If it’s an important call, I encourage people to leave messages, and clients know that I will get back to them as soon as possible. They leave no message? Must not have been important, huh :)

    and Greenspaces, I know it’s not a perfect world, and I sympathize with you having to use your phone in the car…

  • J June 23, 2008 (9:42 pm)

    Greenspaces, please accept my apology. I did put my opinion in an unnecessarily inflammatory way.

    And you’re quite correct, conversing with passengers is very distracting–and I find drivers who insist on turning their heads to address remarks to passengers–of any age and disposition–terrifying. I heard an interesting interview recently with a neuroscientist who found that the direction of sound made a difference–voices from behind were more distracting than voices from the front.

    I do note that you, like most drivers, have a high opinion of your own driving skills. You offer good evidence to support it. But do keep in mind that pretty much everybody else on the road, even those drivers you’d be likely to label “terrible”, has a high opinion of his/her own driving skills. This is built in to the way our brains work! (For a diverting and informative read, I recommend “A Mind of its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives” by Cordelia Fine.)

    One of my nightmares is taking a phone call from a driver, only to hear that driver die.

    I think our only way around this, in the end, is cars that drive themselves and let us do all the distracting things we’d rather do than pay attention to traffic. But they’re still many years off.

    In the meantime, I do not intend to be inflammatory when I ask all drivers to remember they are taking other peoples’ lives in their hands when they drive. Please evaluate your need to use the phone (talk to your passengers, change the CD, put on your lipstick, eat that hamburger…) when driving in the light of the possibility you may kill or disable someone because your brain was distracted.

    I view my own driving skills skeptically, and always put my cell phone where it is inaudible and out of reach when I’m driving–just so I’m not tempted.

  • k2 June 24, 2008 (9:38 am)

    The problem is the Cell Phone itself. Throw it out, you don’t need to be on the phone…ever.

  • Big Fish June 25, 2008 (10:12 am)

    Here is the thing, it isn’t going to stop people from talking and it won’t stop me! To the point above about other distracting activities, so if you are eating, drinking from a H2O bottle, smoking, drinking coffee etc. then you should be ticketed, why are we just focusing on cell phones? I see people sucking down Mickey D’s all the time on the road. That is distracted driving and you should be ticketed for all distracted driving according to the law. Turn your radio off, put your I-Pod away, roll up your windows (the sound might distract you) Don’t turn on your heat or A/C that is distracting from what you should be doing…driving right? People please, this is ridiculous. So I go get a blue tooth head set, big deal I’m still talking, I just don’t have a phone in my hand. How is that any different, still doing the distracting activity just in a slightly different way and not focusing on what I should be doing, driving. Sorry I think this law is ridiculous and will have the State Patrol wasting more tax payer dollars. At the end of the day it is a public financing project that is going to give our money hungry state more money to waste on pet projects! This is a feel good law that doesn’t do crap! Go get’em cowboy!

  • J June 25, 2008 (3:36 pm)

    Big Fish, the research agrees that all those other things are distracting. And I agree we should all pay more attention to our driving and avoid unnecessary distractions. But it’s the degree of distraction that puts talking on the phone in another category, whether hands-free or not.

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