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Council News Release

5/11/2007  10:50:00 AM
David Namura, Della Office, (206) 684-8806

Councilmember David J. Della
Council President Nick Licata

Measure requires drivers to use hands-free devices for cell phones

SEATTLE Councilmember David J. Della and Council President Nick Licata applaud the state for enacting a law to make streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. The new law requires drivers to use hands free devices if using a cell phone while driving, with exceptions for reporting emergencies or illegal activities, or preventing injury.

This law will save lives and send a clear message to drivers that its important to pay attention while driving., said Councilmember Della, whose Chief of Staff, Tatsuo Nakata, was killed last fall while walking to work by a driver who was reportedly talking on a cell phone at the time of the accident. This law is only the first step in changing our driving culture. People come first, not cars, said Council President Licata.

Governor Gregoires signature to SB 5037 creates a secondary infraction for drivers who violate this law. However, violations will not become part of the drivers record, and information related to violations of this act shall not be made available to insurance companies or employers. The law takes effect July 1, 2008.

Said Council President Licata, Someone is hit by a car every day of the week, year-round in Seattle. This legislation is significant, even if it only prevents the tragedy of losing one life.

Said Councilmember Della, Understanding first-hand the tragedy that can come from distracted drivers, I believe this is an important step to ensuring our streets are safer for everyone, whether driving, walking, or biking.

According to a University of Utah psychologist, reporting in the June 29th issue of Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, talking on a cell phone while driving can be as dangerous as driving while drunk. Additionally, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, five percent of drivers are on a cell phone at any given time; most indicators show that the number of drivers talking on a cell phone while driving is increasing annually.


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