Emphasis patrols are watching out for distracted drivers

Emphasis patrols will be out on local roads in both Grays Harbor and Pacific counties this weekend, and across Washington.

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) announced that law enforcement agencies across the state are deploying emphasis patrols through April 8 focused on identifying distracted drivers on the road. 

The enforcement period is part of ongoing efforts to encourage focused driving and marks the beginning of Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April. 

In a continued effort to reduce distracted driving, increased safety patrols will be visible April 5-6 in Grays Harbor County and April 4-6 in Pacific County.

The patrols are intended to serve as a reminder that distracted driving is a serious threat to community safety because it increases the risk of a serious crash.

In WTSC’s 2023 Annual Statewide Traffic Safety Survey, Washington drivers rated “typing or interacting with their cell phones in their hands” to be one of the most dangerous driving behaviors. Less than 1% said it was not dangerous. However, 28 percent of survey respondents admitted that they have engaged in this behavior while driving.

“Most people already know that distracted driving is unsafe. These extra patrols are a periodic reminder to do what we already know is safer – put your phone away or let someone else respond to a text or look up directions,” said Erica Stineman, Communications Manager, WTSC.

Distracted driving is a violation of Washington’s Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (E-DUI) law, which states drivers may not hold cell phones or watch videos while they are driving, stopped in traffic, or at a stop light. Hands-free use is limited to a single touch device. 

The first violation results in an E-DUI ticket that costs drivers $136. If the driver receives a second ticket within five years, the fine increases to $234.

Distraction is not just limited to electronics. Eating, drinking, and personal grooming also take drivers’ attention away from the road and other road users.

Drivers can visit the Washington Traffic Safety Commission’s website to learn how to be a more attentive, focused, and safer driver. Materials are available in seven languages.