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WSP Photo: Washington State Patrol

Washington State plans distracted driving enforcement campaign

Extra officers will be on patrol April 2-14 looking for distracted drivers.

On the road, off the phone—that’s the message from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) over 150 law enforcement agencies will be out in force looking for distracted drivers across the Evergreen state April 2-14 this year.

Under a new state law termed “Driving Under the Influence of Electronics” or “E-DUI,” drivers may not hold cell phones or watch videos while they are driving, stopped in traffic, or at a stop light. This includes tablets, laptops, games, or any hand-held electronic devices, and the law also restricts hands-free use to a single touch, per Erika Mascorro, WTSC’s program manager.

Nearly 1,500 drivers have been ticketed each month since Washington’s new E-DUI law began in July 2017, the agency said. The first E-DUI ticket will cost drivers $136 and if the driver incurs a second ticket within five years, the fine increases to $234, WTSC warned. In addition, all information on cell phone infractions is now being made available to insurance companies, the agency noted.

“Our goal is to raise public awareness about the dangers of distracted driving,” Mascorro said in a statement. “Research shows that drivers are three times more likely to crash when talking on the phone and 23 times more likely to crash when entering information into their phone.”

A recent survey of Washington State drivers found that 96% agree that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous, 88% said they don’t check social media while driving and most said they do not read incoming texts, and only 1% felt “comfortable” being a passenger in a car with a driver who was texting.

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