TOM AND CURLEY

Study: Washington drivers are talking on their phones a little less

Jan 27, 2019, 8:21 AM
washington drivers...
(AP)
(AP)

It turns out that when police start issuing $136 fines for using your cellphone in the car, the amount of people using their cellphones while driving decreases.

A new study found that the percentage of people holding a cellphone dropped to 3.4 percent last year from 6 percent, and that 8.2 percent of drivers were distracted while the car was moving, down 1 percent.

But it’s the nature of study itself that has KIRO Radio’s John Curley not entirely convinced, since it merely involved volunteers creepily peering inside passing cars to observe any examples of distracted driving.

“I don’t believe it. I’d like to see it compared to the last three years,” he said. “I’d like to find out what day, what time, did the days vary, was the Tom and Curley Show on that day? Because that can have a big effect on what people do for entertainment.”

RELATED: Hundreds of ’69’ and ‘420’ milepost signs have been stolen in Washington

“I’m just going to do pure observation for my part: Everybody’s on their phone, at a stoplight.”

The Washington State Traffic Safety Commission had volunteers peer into 27,638 cars in 23 counties and note when drivers were doing things other than looking at the road, like talking on the phone, eating, adjusting the radio, or checking to see if they’re being peered at.

The Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act prohibits fidgeting with gadgets like phones and tablets while driving, even if you’re stopped at a red light and holding up increasingly angry drivers. Doing it once will land you a $136 fine, but if you do it again within five years it’s $234, which could have gone to buying a new phone. The Washington State Patrol handed out 31,160 tickets to distracted drivers between January 2018 and the end of November.

RELATED: TSA starts using floppy-ear dogs to reduce passenger stress

While cellphone use was down, drivers seemed to find different ways to amuse themselves, since the study also showed an increase in other types of distracted behavior, including eating, changing the radio station, and dealing with pets or kids, reports The Seattle Times. This rose to 3.7 percent from 2 percent.

“If you really want to stop it, you whack somebody for $2,000,” Curley joked. “It becomes a big story, and then you’re driving you’re so paranoid that if you see a cop anywhere, you would never want to do it. No one would take the risk.”

The county with the biggest drop? That would be Kitsap County, where distracted driving somehow went from 20 percent to 4 percent, or at least it did whenever a volunteer was peering into the car.

Tom and Curley on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to tom and curleyTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 3pm for The Tom and Curley Show.

Tom and Curley Show

Tom and Curley

squirrel...
Tom and Curley Show

Tom & Curley Show interrupted by a squirrel

In the middle of reading letters from listeners on Monday, John Curley was interrupted by his dogs bringing a squirrel inside his cabin.
12 days ago
Jay Inslee, pause, reopening, vaccine order...
Tom and Curley Show

Not much point in suing over Inslee’s vaccine order, says former state Attorney General

The vaccine order from Gov. Inslee for state workers stands on pretty firm legal ground, according to former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna.
2 months ago
Seattle crime...
Tom and Curley Show

Should Seattle council shoulder the blame for city’s ‘violent crime spike’?

The Tom & Curley Show discusses a recent column from Seattle Times' Danny Westneat titled: "How the City Council left Seattle in a no man's land on crime."
2 months ago
cell phone video...
Tom and Curley Show

Tom & Curley: Mistaken identity story out of Edmonds has an added twist

Tom and John discuss the case of mistaken identity from a viral video out of Edmonds that led to death threats, but there's another part of the story.
2 months ago
Metro...
Tom and Curley Show

What will it take for you to return to King County Metro post-pandemic?

As vaccinations against COVID-19 are on the rise, how would you feel about commuting to work on a Metro bus again? Tom & Curley weigh in.
5 months ago
vaccine, seattle covid...
Tom and Curley Show

Poll: Seattle metro area most eager in country to get the COVID vaccine

A new poll finds that the Seattle area -- including Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties -- tops the U.S. for willingness to get a COVID vaccine.
6 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
...
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Study: Washington drivers are talking on their phones a little less