Sometimes, feeling guilty is a good thing

distracted driving 3.jpgMany drivers are resisting the pull of the ping.

That's the upshot of the latest PEMCO Northwest Poll, which revealed nearly two-thirds of Northwesterners say they're now at least a little more cautious about using the phone when driving, thanks to stiffer E-DUI laws in Washington and Oregon.

And about a quarter say they're waaaaaay less likely to drive distracted.

Virtually all use of a handheld device behind the wheel is a primary offense. In Washington, that's a $136 fine for first-timers and $234 for two-time offenders. In Oregon, drivers caught holding a device face penalties of $130 to $1,000 for a first offense and about double for their second. And if those Beaver Staters get caught three times in a 10-year span? It could cost them $2,500 and six months in jail. Troopers in both states have handed out more than 12,000 E-DUI warnings and tickets since last summer.

Just makes sneaking a peek at that goofy cat video a little less LOL-worthy.

The shift comes as a sign that drivers may be taking the "hang up and drive" message to heart. And that's a start – even if people aren't always willing to admit that distraction was a problem for them in the first place.

Makes you think about what's next. Maybe an "S-DUI" law for all those I-5 groomers shaving on the onramps? Or how about a "C-DUI" for the cheeseburger aficionados getting their WHOPPER® fix somewhere between Drive and Park?

Read the complete Local PEMCO Northwest Poll, in which Seattle's FBK Research surveyed 1,200 Washington and Oregon residents. 

by  Derek Wing

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