The Shelton Police Department issued 52 citations during a 15-hour distracted driving emphasis as part of a grant funded initiative through the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC). WTSC is the state’s designated highway safety office. The WTSC distracted driving emphasis program is part of a shared vision with law enforcement agencies to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero by 2030.
“Drivers are three times more likely to be in a crash when talking on a phone,” said Captain Mike Fiola. “Our goal is to create safer roads for our community while bringing attention to the dangers of driving while distracted.”
A few stats on distracted driving in Washington:
- Fatalities from distracted driving increased 32% between 2014 and 2015.
- 71% of distracted drivers engage in the most dangerous distraction, cell phone use behind the wheel.
- 1 out of 4 crashes involve cell phone use just prior to the crash.
In 2017, Washington passed the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (E-DUI) Act, which prohibits the use of any hand-held device while operating a vehicle. Drivers may not use hand-held 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. The law restricts hands-free use of an electronic device to a single touch or swipe of the finger. The fine for distracted driving is $136.00. Distracted driving infraction data is available to insurance companies.
Drivers CAN use their device if they are:
- Hands free (such as using Bluetooth and can start use by a single touch or swipe without holding the phone).
- Parked or out-of-the-flow of traffic.
- Starting a GPS or music before driving.
- Contacting emergency services.
For more information on Washington’s E-DUI law and distracted driving visit http://wadrivetozero.com/distracted-driving.