Using the shoulder to talk on one’s cell phone

The in basket: Lisa Rossi e-mails to say, “Several times while driving to Silverdale from Poulsbo (and back) I have seen a couple of cars pulled off to the side of the road not blocking traffic. The drivers were talking on the cell phone and shortly thereafter, police, either county or state patrol, pulled in behind them.

“The cell phone talker doesn’t have flashers on so they aren’t in distress. Why would an officer stop? Are the (drivers) illegally parked or stopped? Is it still illegal to talk on your cell phone in your car even if you are safely on the side of the road?”

The in basket: More than likely, the officers were making a courtesy stop to see if the driver was having trouble, but there are places where it would be illegal to use the shoulder for that purpose. And the State Patrol encourages use of a safer place than the shoulder.

“If a trooper sees a vehicle stopped along the shoulder,” says WSP information officer Krista Hedstrom, “they will stop (if not in route to another call) and check on the driver to make sure they are OK. Many times, drivers with disabled vehicles don’t turn their flashers on when they are stopped.  Sometimes they can’t because their battery is dead. 

 “There is nothing in (state law) that says you cannot stop along the side of the road to take a call,” Krista said. “Keeping this in mind, Highway 3 is a limited access highway and we (don’t like to see) drivers lined up on the side of the road talking on their cell.  We encourage drivers who must make a call to take the nearest exit and find a place where they are safely off the roadway. 

“It is my belief that stopping on the shoulder of Highway 3 where cars are passing you at 60-plus MPH is not the safest alternative. It also poses a huge hazard when attempting to pull back onto the roadway after the call is complete.   

“If a driver on the phone is contacted on the shoulder, more than likely that trooper will ask them to move to a safer location,” she said.

But if the driver has pulled over just to use his or her phone in one of those no-shoulder-parking zones, such as the one established by a sign on Highway 3 in Gorst for a few miles to the north, “a ticket could be issued, at the troopers discretion,” Krista said.

One thought on “Using the shoulder to talk on one’s cell phone

  1. I’m a bit confused. It’s absolutely NOT alright to hold a cell phone, but it is OK to eat, put on make-up, read reports and the newspaper, and have Fido jumping around in the car and hanging out the drivers side window? Seems to me having a pet sitting in the drivers lap or hanging on to the steering wheel or hanging out the window is just as hazardous (or more as you never know what the dog is going to do) as talking on an inanimate object.

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