The statewide enforcement campaign focuses especially on drivers using electronic devices behind the wheel
CLARK COUNTY — This coming Summer, Washington state’s tougher new distracted driving law will celebrate its first birthday. Since it was passed, nearly 1,500 drivers per month have been tagged with a ticket under the new law. That number may go up between now and April 14, as more than 150 law enforcement agencies across the state will be out making sure people are paying attention.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission released this PSA Video to go along with their Spring Target Zero Task Force, focusing on distracted driving. Video courtesy Washington State Traffic Commission
In Clark County, the Target Zero Task Force will include Washington State Patrol, and police departments in Battle Ground, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and the sheriff’s office.
“Our goal is to raise public awareness about the dangers of distracted driving,” said Hilary Torres, Target Zero manager for the Clark County Target Zero Task Force. “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.”
Under the new “Driving Under the Influence of Electronics” (E-DUI) law, 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. The law restricts hands-free use to a single touch.
A statewide survey of Washington drivers found that 96 percent agree that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous, 88 percent said they don’t check social media while driving and most said they do not read incoming texts. Only one percent felt comfortable being a passenger in a car with a driver who was texting.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission is also announcing a PSA campaign that provides extra education to parents and caregivers, encouraging them to stay off their phones. Not only to protect their passengers, but to model safe driving behavior for the next generation.
“We need to change the culture of distracted driving in our state,” says WTSC Deputy Director Pam Pannkuk. “We believe parents can lead the way in making this shift and model good driving behavior for their children.”
The first E-DUI ticket will cost drivers $136. If the driver incurs a second ticket within five years, the fine increases to $234. In addition, all information on cell phone infractions is now available to insurance companies.
Washington deadly crash data is available by state and county here: http://wtsc.wa.gov/research-data/quarterly-target-zero-data/.