Bill would double fine for driver cellphone use in school zones

Bill would double fine for motorists caught using a cell phone or device in school zone, while revenues would be deposited into school zone safety account

  • Thursday, January 31, 2019 3:11pm
  • Politics

By Sean Harding

WNPA Olympia News Bureau

OLYMPIA — A proposed bill would double the fine for motorists caught using a cellphone in a school, playground or crosswalk speed zone to up to $234 per infraction, or up to $468 for repeat offenders.

Washington state’s first law to address texting while driving and other driver distractions went into effect in 2017. It also prohibited talking on cellphones, eating and applying makeup.

“One of the primary crosswalks I sit at is Mill Creek Elementary,” said Christine White, a patrol officer with the Mill Creek Police Department.

“I have seen people on their cellphones talking, texting, reading, doing other things besides actually paying attention to what is in front of them,” she said. “I’ve had to smack the side of cars, and fortunately I have a very hard ring and it gets their attention.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 persons were killed and 391,000 were injured in distracted driving-affected accidents in 2015, although it’s not clear how many of those happened in school zones. The bill would require one-half of the fines collected to be deposited in a school zone safety account.

“If we can’t keep our children safe in our communities and their schools, I don’t think there’s anything else we’re going to do in this world that’s going to matter” said bill sponsor Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek.

“This is just an opportunity to keep our children safe.”

If passed, the new fines would go into effect on Jan. 1 next year.

_______

This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation.

More in Politics

EYE ON CONGRESS: Congress debating stopgap funding

House also to vote on clean energy bill

Culp slams governor for virus, fire response

Rally reportedly draws more than 1,000 people

Loren Culp to speak in Port Angeles

Gubernatorial candidate headlines Saturday gathering

State Senate hopefuls discuss taxes, DNR

Democrat Kevin Van De Wege, Republican Connie Beauvais debate at PABA meeting

EYE ON CLALLAM: Commissioners to discuss EOC

Port Angeles City Council to act on changes to the Public Safety Advisory Board

EYE ON JEFFERSON: Commissioners to hear update on COVID-19

Intergovernmental Collaborative Group to meet

Chapman, Forde clash in candidate forum

Taxes, MAT clinic were points of contention

Sequim mayor backs QAnon on local broadcast

‘Movement encourages you to think for yourself’

Clallam County Superior Court judge candidates spar in debate

Incumbent, challenger trade jabs at PABA forum

Kilmer: Bipartisan support exists for PILT

Payments help counties with federal lands