This summer, Washington began enacting a state law that expanded upon their existing distracted driving legislation. Drivers were already forbidden from holding a phone to their ear or texting while driving, but the new law banned holding a phone for any reason while behind the wheel, including at stoplights or stopped in traffic. Though drivers this summer saw mostly warnings when pulled over, the “education” period around the law change is coming to an end this winter and citations are likely to increase. The change to the law also made tickets that involved a mobile device reportable to auto insurance companies; these citations were previously exempted from disclosure.
The name of the citation itself is particularly impactful because it is called a DUI-E for
“driving under the influence of electronics.” Though this name is currently only used in Washington, the impact of the DUI designation could have a widespread impact. As more states develop stronger distracted driving regulations, they may also consider applying the DUI title to increase stigma as a further deterrent. Furthermore, as states allow distracted driving citations to be reported to insurance companies, the DUI designation makes the act commensurate with drinking and driving.
Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste commented on their law, “It’s a hands-free situation. Before you get in your vehicle, if you’re going to use GPS, get that started before you turn the key. If you’re going to listen to music, get that all programmed and started before you head off down the roadways.” Phones that are mounted in a cradle or connected to the car via Bluetooth can be used with voice command or “minimal” finger touches for activation.
An integral part of our mission at Drivemode is to enable safer driving. Our automotive-grade interface is designed and developed to meet and exceed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety guidelines for driving apps. We test our interface extensively and continuously to ensure that broad swipes or quick taps between apps require minimal engagement to function fluidly and safely. Drivemode’s bold, bright interface can be viewed peripherally and is designed specifically for use during driving. As laws evolve around the use of mobile devices while driving, Drivemode will continue our commitment to develop the safest driving interface possible, in any vehicle.