WENATCHEE - Numbers from the Washington State Patrol’s (WSP) latest distracted driving emphasis have now been made official.
According to WSP spokesperson Brian Moore, troopers contacted 173 drivers statewide during the emphasis period between Sept. 21 and Sept. 23.
Moore indicates these figures represent only primary contacts for driving while distracted and that during an emphasis patrol of this nature, troopers will always take any other enforcement actions which are necessary, especially when they observe collision-causing violations.
The statistics from this round of distracted driving emphasis patrols are consistent with those previously conducted by WSP in recent years.
Many of the motorists being contacted by troopers for distracted driving are stopped due to the use of personal electronic devices behind the wheel, but Moore says he has witnessed and pulled over drivers for other variations of being distracted as well.
“I saw someone eating a bowl of cereal while driving recently," says Moore, who indicated he has also observed someone reading a newspaper while at the wheel.
Actions such as these, as well as having an animal in the driver’s lap are more common than many might realize, and all are considered distractions which can result in the issuance of a secondary citation of $99.
“We are not concerned about people drinking their cup of coffee in the car on the way to work in the morning, we are concerned when that cup of coffee becomes a distraction to someone safely operating a motor vehicle," explained Moore.
Distracted driving is currently the leading cause of fatality accidents among teenagers in Washington State and nationwide and is rapidly advancing on the number-one overall reason at both levels among all drivers, right behind speed and impairment.
A first-time offender for distracted driving is subject to a citation of $136 and anyone receiving more than a single ticket within five years is subject to a fine of $234.