Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin has witnessed firsthand the aftermath of what many call a not-so-silent killer. From Route 66 to Interstate 65 and many of the roads in between, he knows what tops the list of car accidents.
“Distracted driving is actually the No. 1 cause of crashes in the state of Indiana.”
Across the country, one state is addressing this deadly problem. Washington has enacted a law that carries severe legal consequences for those who choose to focus on their phones instead of the road.
Many refer to it as driving under the influence of electronics and is more dangerous than operating a vehicle with a .08 blood alcohol level. The law was enacted following a study that revealed a 32 percent increase in distracted driving-related fatalities from 2014 to 2105.
The new E-DUI law bans Evergreen State drivers from using a cell phone or any electronic device while behind the wheel. That includes both driving and during stops while waiting for traffic lights.
E-DUI goes beyond cell phone use. It also covers other distractions. Offenders face a $99 fine for driving while grooming, smoking, eating or reading if it interferes with safe operation and the driver is pulled over for another offense.
An unofficial grace period exists for the law, as law enforcement will give warnings instead of tickets for the first few months. After that, the first citation will carry a fee of $136. A second charge within five years of the first will increase the fine to $236.
The consequences for E-DUI tickets go beyond criminal penalties. The traffic violation will show up on a driver’s record and reported to insurers.
Supporters predict success that will rival the “click it, or ticket” seatbelt law that has led to 95% compliance in the state.