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Ban On Holding A Cell Phone And Driving Dies In Washington House

A proposed law would outlaw holding a wireless communications device while driving in Washington state.
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A proposed law would outlaw holding a wireless communications device while driving in Washington state.

A proposal to make it illegal to hold a cell phone while driving has died in the Washington House. The measure failed to get a vote before a key deadline Tuesday.

The so-called distracted driving bill would have expanded Washington’s current ban on texting and driving or holding a phone up to one’s ear. It would have prohibited reading from or manually entering information into a phone or just holding a phone while driving -- even at a red light.

Democrat Judy Clibborn, the House Transportation committee chair, said she came to support the measure, but couldn’t muster the votes to move it out of her committee.

“I just think it’s a new idea,” she said.

Republican Senator Ann Rivers sponsored the measure. She’s disappointed and said it could have saved lives.

“Our inability to act as a legislature really is quite an embarrassment on this issue,” Rivers said.

Rivers pointed to a recent AAA study that found 12 percent of teen crashes involved cell phone use. The proposal is likely to come back next year.

Copyright 2015 Northwest News Network

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."