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Washington State Patrol cracking down on distracted drivers over Fourth of July weekend; know what’s legal and what isn’t.

July 3, 2019 • by Wiener & Lambka

Put down your phone!

The Washington State Patrol will be looking for distracted drivers around the state during an emphasis patrol Friday through Sunday. The state is on a mission to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2030 and, to that end, has launched a number of public-safety and education initiatives aimed at changing drivers’ behaviors. Distracted driving causes 30% of statewide traffic fatalities and 23% of all serious injury collisions in Washington, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, “There is no call, text, email or update that is worth a life, yours or the person in the car you hit,” Patrol Chief John Batiste said in a statement. “Drivers, please pay attention. You matter and we want you to arrive at your destination safely.”

Last year, the State Patrol pulled over 20,000 distracted drivers, 3,000 more than in the previous year, the Patrol said in a statement. State law prohibits drivers from using personal electronic devices — such as cellphones, laptops, tablets and gaming devices — while operating a motor vehicle on a public highway, even when stopped in traffic or at a traffic light. Drivers are allowed to activate, deactivate or initiate a function on the device only if it requires minimal use of a finger, the Patrol said.

Drivers can, however, use a device if:

•It’s a hands-free free device that can be started with the single touch or swipe of a finger.
•The driver is parked or stopped, completely out of the flow of traffic and safely off of the roadway.
•The driver is calling 911.

The penalty for distracted driving is a $136 citation for the first offense; a second offense within five years raises the penalty to at least $234. Each offense is reported to insurance companies.
This article originally reporting this can be found here.

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