First-of-its-kind e-DUI law goes into effect Sunday in Washington state
eDriving has the scoop, with tips to help you through the change
A new law in the state of Washington that bans all personal electronic device usage when driving will go into effect this Sunday, July 23, nearly 18 months ahead of the legislation’s originally proposed date of January 2019.
In May Washington Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed the section of SB 5289 that listed this initial effective date, noting that “public safety is better served by implementing this bill this year,” he wrote in his partial-veto message. Inslee fully approved SB 5289 with Sunday’s more immediate effective date.
Yay Washington! But not quite far enough. This is the country’s first instance of an “e-DUI” law that targets individuals who drive while under the influence of electronics. SB 5289 expands on the state’s decade-old ban on texting while driving to include video watching and the use of all mobile devices, including tablets and laptops. The law also clarifies “driving” to include waiting at a red light and sitting in traffic. And the penalties for everything just got stiffer.
Another section of SB 5289 addresses other “non-driving,” behind-the-wheel behaviors, such as eating and grooming. While the bill does not ban these activities, drivers can still be ticketed for them as a “secondary activity” if they are initially pulled over by police for a moving violation.
Altogether, the expanded law will make it easier for Washington police to ticket distracted drivers by broadening what is covered and simplifying the burden on police to prove a violation. Part of the new enforcement includes reporting e-DUI incidents to insurance companies.
We applaud these moves, as well as the first state bold enough to establish tougher laws on distraction, including the official recognition of the dangerous distraction happening at stoplights that lead to collisions. Unfortunately, Washington stopped short of banning hands-free phone calls; research has shown definitively that hands-free phone use causes almost the exact same amount of distraction as hand-held phone use. (It’s not about distracting the hand—it’s about distracting the mind.) Nevertheless, Washington and Gov. Inslee have drawn a new red line and we hope other states will follow suit.
What can you do?
- Start making changes now by heading to our Distracted Driving Center. There, you’ll learn the risks of distracted driving and how to stay focused on the road.
- Learn about the Seven Stages of Distraction Denial and how you can break them.
- Set your GPS destination and your music playlist BEFORE YOU START TO DRIVE. Stow your phone in a cradle or put it away in your glove box before you start driving.
Challenge yourself to improve
There are no such things as accidents—94% of collisions are caused by driver attitudes and behaviors. 94%!!! eDriving’s One More Second® Defensive Driving Course is a two-hour course that will help you become a defensive, crash-free driver for life, helping you identify and retrain your bad driving habits.
Sign up yourself or your family member(s) to be one of the first users of our new smartphone-based virtual coaching app, Mentor by eDriving®. The app will measure your actual driving habits like speeding, braking, cornering, and distraction, score you after each trip and provide personal insights about exactly how to improve.
Lastly, take eDriving’s RoadRISK, an assessment developed to help you understand your “probability” or “likelihood” of being involved in a collision.