If you’re tempted to reach for you cell phone while driving – something that is against the law in our state – Washington State Patrol (WSP) is warning the public they’ll be looking for you this weekend as troopers conduct a statewide emphasis on distracted driving from Friday, September 21st through Sunday, September 23rd, 2018.
According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, distracted driving is the cause of 30% of traffic fatalities and makes up 23% of all serious injury collisions in the state. So far in 2018, the WSP said it has contacted 18,557 drivers for distracted driving. In 2017, troopers stopped 17,058 drivers.
WSP says various emphasis patrols are proving successful. A recent five-day HOV lane violators emphasis patrol resulted in nearly 1,700 citations and 85 warnings, including 17 divers being cited twice and one driver getting three citations.
Per state law, drivers are prohibited from using a personal electronic device while operating a motor vehicle on a public highway— which includes when stopped in traffic or at a traffic light. Personal electronic devices aren’t just limited to cell phones, but also includes laptop, tablets, gaming devices, etc. A driver is only allowed the minimal use of a finger to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function on the device.
Drivers are allowed to use their phones if:
- It’s hands-free and can be started by using a single touch or swipe of a finger
- You are parked or stopped out of the flow of traffic and safely off the roadway
- Calling 911
The penalty for distracted driving is a $136 citation for the first offense and jumps to $234 If you’re issued another
ticket within five years. Drivers can also be penalized for a secondary violation of dangerously distracted under the law as well as another $99 penalty for being dangerously distracted if a driver commits a traffic violation because they were distracted.
WSP is reminding all drivers that there is “no call, text, or update that is worth a life. Let’s all work together to keep Washington roads safe by paying attention.”