Spokane automobile accident attorneys routinely hear stories from drivers who cause serious crashes. You are driving down I-90 and hear that familiar ring of a cell phone. You cringe at the thought of feeling around to find it, maybe looking down from the road for a moment and realizing you should probably watch the road. The ringing continues. You cleverly begin running your hand ever so slowly and deliberately along the console or seat next to you. Perhaps you gently rummage through your purse hoping to quickly retrieve your phone and answer that very important call.
Of course, while you are doing all of this, your eyes may be on the road but your mind is not. This is how accidents happen. If you are in the Spokane area, the law says hang up and drive.
Washington is One of 13 States with Complete Handheld Device Bans
Across the nation, states have been cracking down on cell phone usage while driving. However, the range of laws is quite broad. Some states ban teens from talking or texting, but they allow adults to talk but not text. Other states limit the ban to school zones only. Some states ban just texting but not talking. This creates some confusion for drivers, especially those who live in smaller states where crossing from one state to another is frequent.
Likewise, in the Pacific Northwest, many Spokane residents work in Idaho or vice versa. The laws between the two states are very different. Washington entirely bans the use of handheld devices. Period.
Know the Law!
Since the law varies from state to state, here is a brief list of the laws, as of this time, in the Pacific Northwest.
- Washington: Absolute ban on all handheld devices while driving, regardless of zone or age. Read the law on Washington handheld device laws. First time offenders face a fine of $124.00.
- Oregon: Ban on all handheld devices while driving, regardless of zone or age. Read the Oregon handheld device laws. However, there are a couple limited exceptions:
- Utility workers
- Tow trucks / Roadside Assistance
- Farm and Agriculture Use
- Idaho: Texting is prohibited but not talking. However, it is perfectly acceptable to use a talk-to-text device. Some phones are designed to allow the user to speak a message that is then converted to text using voice recognition. So long as this can be done entirely without the need to touch the screen or view the device, it is permissible. Read the Idaho texting laws.
- Montana: Amazingly, there is no handheld device ban in Big Sky Country.
- National Laws: Outside the Pacific Northwest, there are a variety of laws that apply. If travelling outside the area, you should consult a national database site, such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which offers tools that illustrate the varying laws from state to state. However, just remember that information on the Web may not always be up to date.
Accidents and Defensive Driving
Remember, you have the greatest chance of surviving an automobile accident if you are alert and aware of your surroundings. You are most alert when you are 100% focused on the road and undistracted by devices, ringing gadgets, and reading messages from friends. No one wants to end up in a terrible collision in which you are at fault.
However, if you are injured by a driver who was using a handheld device in violation of Washington's ban, you should know that the very act of breaking the law can be strong evidence of negligence. You should immediately consult a Spokane auto accident lawyer who can ensure you are compensated for your damages and injuries.