King County Beware: Police Launch Two-Week Distracted Driving Patrols

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During the next two weeks, King County drivers will be under the watchful eye of local law enforcement due to the increase in distracted driving violations in the region.

According to The Seattle Times, law enforcement will be looking out for distracted drivers for the next two weeks, hoping to focus their efforts on keeping drivers from using their phones while behind the wheel. 

The campaign is a response to a report from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) showing that 9.4% of statewide drivers and 11.7% of city drivers were holding a phone while driving in 2020. In 2019, the percentage of distracted drivers was smaller, with only 6.8% of statewide drivers and 6.3% of city drivers holding a phone. In order to help slow down this trend, officials want to boost their monitoring efforts. 

WTSC: Covid, Decreased Enforcement Made 2020 An Atypical Year For Distracted Driving 

In the report’s results, the WTSC said decreased enforcement was responsible for the growth of distracted driving, adding that because fewer officials were on the lookout for distracted drivers in 2020, statewide distraction citations declined from 37,000 in 2019 to 20,000 in 2020.

Because 2020 was an atypical year, WTSC distracted-driving program manager told the Seattle Times, it is still too soon to judge whether 2017’s Driving Under the Influence of Electronics law is working. 

In order to ensure their efforts to discourage drivers from distracted driving will pay off in 2021, the WTSC is moving away from fear-based publicity. Instead of producing strong crash-related PSAs or highlighting serious or deadly distracted driving accidents, the state will focus on promoting community safety, targeting the idea that “everybody does it.” 

In Washington, distracted driving violations carry a $136 fine for first-time offenders and $234 fines for a second offense within five years. Additional distractions such as eating or drinking can trigger additional $99 fines if the driver is pulled over for another violation. 

Considering 23% of serious traffic accidents are caused by some type of distraction, drivers should take the law seriously. 

For more on the state’s effort to put an end to distracted driving, click here.

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