Distracted driving patrols returning to Tri-Cities

Distracted driving patrols returning to Tri-Cities

WASHINGTON TRAFFIC SAFETY COMMISSION NEWS RELEASE -- On the heels of the first-ever statewide distracted driving extra enforcement campaign, law enforcement officers will be out once again searching for not only unbuckled drivers but distracted drivers as part of the annual “Click it or Ticket” patrols.

In Benton and Franklin Counties, during the recent distracted driving campaign which took place between April 10th and 15th, 49 cell phone and texting violations were written.

The “Handheld Cell Phone Use” law became a primary law in Washington in June 2010.  Prior to that law taking effect, on average, 700 drivers were cited for cell phone use per month statewide. After the law went into effect, the number of motorists cited for cell phone use increased and has stayed consistent at approximately 4,000 per month. This is without funding for extra enforcement!

Likewise, after the primary seat belt law took effect in June 2002 seat belt violations initially increased and then the seat belt use rate increased. This model of high visibility enforcement has proven to change behaviors and is now being applied to distracted driving. Texting and cell phone usage is aggravating to so many motorists and it remains a growing public health and traffic safety issue.

That is why between May 19 and June 1, motorists in Benton and Franklin Counties can expect to see extra seat belt AND distracted driving patrols.

Last year, during this same time period, officers on extra patrols statewide issued 2,963 seat belt violations amongst the 11,666 motorists who were stopped.

Also last year during this time period, 1,897 cell phone and texting violations were written.  However, taking a historical look, in 2010, (when the primary law went into effect) only 63 drivers were cited statewide at this time.

In Benton and Franklin Counties, the Kennewick, Pasco and Richland Police Departments, the Benton and Franklin County Sheriff’s Offices and the Washington State Patrol will be teaming up and participating in these extra patrols, with the support of the Benton-Franklin Traffic Safety Task Force.

These and all extra patrols are part of Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030. For more information, visit www.targetzero.com. Additional information on the Washington Traffic Safety Commission can be found on the website, www.wtsc.wa.gov.