Status Summary

Passed out of the House. Scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Transportation on Mar 28 at 3:30 PM.

Legislative Session

2017

Status

In Progress

Sponsor

Farrell

Revises distracted driving provisions with regard to portable electronic devices by adding a new section that states a person who uses a personal electronic device while driving a motor vehicle on a public highway is guilty of a traffic infraction and must pay a fine. The bill has a definition section that includes a definition of driving  ["Driving" means to operate a motor vehicle on a public 11 highway, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays. "Driving" does not include when the vehicle has pulled over to the side of, or off of, an active roadway and has stopped in a location where it can safely remain stationary.], a definition of use or uses:  "Use" or "uses" means: (i) Holding a personal electronic device in either hand or both hands; (ii) Using your hand or finger to compose, send, read, view, access, browse, transmit, save, or retrieve email, text messages, instant messages, photographs, or other electronic data; however, this does not preclude the minimal use of a finger to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of the device; (iii) Watching video on a personal electronic device.), and a definition of personal electronic device ("Personal electronic device" means any portable electronic device that is capable of wireless communication or electronic data retrieval and is not manufactured primarily for hands-free use in a motor vehicle. "Personal electronic device" includes, but is not limited to, a cell phone, tablet, laptop, two-way messaging device, or electronic game.).

House Floor Amendments:

Adds as an exception to prohibited personal electronic

device usage while driving a motor vehicle the use of a personal electronic device during an emergency situation or extraordinary circumstances that have temporarily caused a significant traffic delay, as long as the vehicle is not a commercial motor vehicle.

The above amendment was incorporated into a striking amendment.  The striking amendment does the following:

Makes the following additions to distracted driving infractions and penalties: (1) Broadens the exemption from the prohibition on the use of the telephone call functionality of a wireless communications device for tow truck operators to permit all use of the telephone call functionality of the device; (2) Exempts drivers of autonomous vehicles, beginning in 2021, from the prohibition on the use of personal electronic device usage while the vehicle is being operated in a mode that does not require the person to be in active physical control of or continuously monitoring the vehicle; (3) Defines "autonomous vehicle" as any vehicle equipped with technology that has the capability of operating or driving the vehicle without the active physical control or monitoring of a human operator; (4) Prohibits the first and second offense for using a personal electronic device while driving from becoming part of the driver's record; (5) Prohibits a finding that a person has committed a first and second offense for using a personal electronic device while driving from being made available to insurance companies; (6) Defines driving in a dangerously distracted manner as engaging in any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of such motor vehicle on a highway; (7) Establishes dangerously distracted driving as a secondary traffic infraction, limiting enforcement to when a driver of a motor vehicle has been detained for a suspected violation of a separate traffic infraction or an equivalent local ordinance; (8) Sets the monetary penalty for dangerously distracted driving to equal the unscheduled infraction base penalty amount established by rule by the Supreme Court in its schedule of monetary penalties for infractions; (9) Restricts the use of revenues obtained from the secondary infraction of dangerously distracted driving to the support of programs dedicated to reducing distracted driving and improving driver education on distracted driving; (10) Establishes an appropriated account, the Distracted Driving Prevention Account, and restricts use of its funds to the support of programs dedicated to reducing distracted driving and improving driver education on distracted driving, as directed by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission; and (11) Specifies that the Distracted Driving Prevention Account is required to receive any interest earned based on its average daily balance.