Q: What are the laws about talking on a cell phone while driving? And why is it OK for Troopers to talk on their cell phones without a headset, when I can't?
A: The law is, you cannot have a phone up to your ear—it has to be through a speaker or Bluetooth. There are some exceptions to that, however: if you’re hearing impaired, or reporting an emergency. If you're caught talking on your cell phone while driving, it's a primary offense.
If you’re a law enforcement officer on your cell phone, it usually means you’re summoning aide. In the State Patrol, we try to keep that to a minimum. If we’re talking on the phone, it’s a necessary task to perform our job.
It's the same with texting. I don’t do it when I drive, it's illegal.
Distracted driving in general is big cause of collisions. We see collisions when people are doing something inside their vehicle other than focusing on driving--using an iPod or iPad, changing a CD or radio station... eating. Whatever keeps you from doing your task is considered distracted driving and against the law.
Trooper Guy Gill is the Washington State Patrol recruiter and spokesman for District 1, covering Pierce and Thurston counties. Follow him at @wspd1pio on Twitter.
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