Police add patrols to look for distracted drivers

Leader news staff
news@ptleader.com
Posted 4/7/21

Law enforcement agencies on the Olympic Peninsula will join agencies statewide in adding extra patrols to be on the lookout for distracted drivers this month. 

April as Distracted Driving …

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Police add patrols to look for distracted drivers

Posted

Law enforcement agencies on the Olympic Peninsula will join agencies statewide in adding extra patrols to be on the lookout for distracted drivers this month. 

April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the extra enforcement patrols will include the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, the Port Townsend Police Department, and the Clallam County Sheriff's Office.

The focus on preventing crashes comes after Washington state experienced increases in distracted driving in 2020.

During the patrols, police will be looking for drivers who are distracted by their electronic devices.

Drivers can also receive a “dangerously distracted” citation for committing other traffic violations due to any type of distraction. 

The annual enhanced enforcement activity is funded by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

“All of us can work together to encourage focused driving,” said Shelly Baldwin, director of the commission.

“Together we can make our roads safer. If you’re behind the wheel, put your phone away. If you’re a passenger, speak up politely to encourage the driver to remain focused. As a parent, set rules and be a good example," Baldwin said. "If we all do our part, we can prevent crashes that result from distracted driving.”

According to the commission’s 2020 Distracted Driving Observation Survey, the statewide distracted driver rate increased from 6.8 percent in 2019 to 9.4 percent last year.

The survey also found that distracted driving behavior on city streets rose from one in every 10 drivers to nearly one in every five, while driver distraction on county roads doubled. 

Officials note the increases included all types of driver distraction, not just hand-held cell phone use.

“We hope that by emphasizing distracted driving prevention this April we can help everyone build safety habits that are not dependent on fear of getting a ticket,” said Erika Mascorro, the commission's program manager for distracted driving. “Safety is up to all of us doing our part to pay attention behind the wheel, and encouraging focus as parents, friends and coworkers.”

The emphasis patrols will run through April 19 and include more than 130 law enforcement agencies.

 

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