Almost 700 citations for texting while driving in Washington State
It looks like Washington lawmakers made the right move by moving texting while driving from a secondary traffic offense to a primary traffic offense. In the first 20 days following the enforcement of the new distracted driving law, the Washington State Patrol issued nearly 670 citations for cell phone and texting violations, almost 6 times more than in the previous year.
Senate Bill 6345 made texting and the handheld use of a cell phone while driving a primary offense as of June 10, 2010. A violation of the law results in a fine of $124. As texting while driving was already banned since 2008, there were no grace period and state troopers started enforcement of the new law on the effective date.
Some counties are more delinquent than others. King County tops the list, with 142 citations for the month of June, including 13 for texting while driving There also seems to be more texting drivers in Western Washington than in Eastern Washington. 30 citations were issued on the west side, compared to a small 4 citations on the east side.
According to State Patrol Chief John Batiste, the new law helps state troopers to stop texting drivers.
“Those who continue to flout the law are now much easier to spot,” he said.
State troopers still have the choice to issue a citation or a warning. In the same period, just about 500 warnings were issued.
Between 2006 and 2008, over 3,000 drivers were involved in a car crash while using a cell phone, according to State Patrol statistics.
Source: The News Tribune, July 3, 2010; Seattle PI, July 4, 2010