Additional distracted driving emphasis patrols planned this April

Apr 3, 2023, 10:27 AM

distracted driving...

Area emphasis patrols are growing. (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) is working to reduce traffic fatalities by running more emphasis patrols in partnership with local law enforcement to crack down on distracted driving.

April 1 marks the start of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and to get it started, WTSC is conducting a special law enforcement period from April 3-10. More than 150 law enforcement agencies will participate in the program.

Emphasis Patrols target distracted drivers start Friday in Whatcom County

The WTSC will also be working to reduce fatalities by educating the public on the dangers of distracted driving with a series of PSAs and training materials for officers.

WTSC’s annual Distracted Driving Observation survey found Washington’s statewide distracted driving rate rose to 9.3% in 2022 – an increase from 6.9% in 2021.

According to their data, 23% of crashes are caused by distracted driving, and 30% of traffic deaths are due to driving distracted. In 2021, 116 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers.

Distracted driving is highest on city streets and lowest on state routes, likely due to lower travel speeds. Distracted driving increased on all road types in 2022.

To limit these types of fatalities, WTSC is also holding their Work Zone Safety Awareness Campaign in order to educate drivers to “not to drive distracted to save the lives of work zone workers.” This program will continue on into the summer, “when most construction projects are taking place.”

Driving while using your phone is illegal under Washington’s Driving Under The Influence Of Electronics Law, which could cost drivers a fine of $136 for a first violation and $234 for a second violation within five years.

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Additional distracted driving emphasis patrols planned this April