King County taking aim at distracted drivers

SEATTLE -- Bad habits behind the wheel will soon cost King County drivers.

Tickets are going to be issued for inattentive driving, and you might be surprised to learn what police are looking out for.

Most drivers know that talking on a cell phone is a no-no, but tickets will soon be issued for eating food, yelling at your kids or putting on makeup while driving.

The King County Council voted earlier this week to make distracted driving illegal in unincorporated King County. The unanimously-approved ordinance outlaws everything from talking to passengers to eating. Even attending to their children could earn drivers a ticket if takes the their attention off the road.

Most drivers have their own horror stories of seeing inattentive drivers on the road.

"I have seen someone changing their clothes while they are driving, which was probably just about the worst thing you could be doing," said Lynn Zahniser of Seattle.

Police say they're seeing more and more cases of distracted drivers. A state trooper was recently rear-ended by a motorist investigators say was staring at his cell phone.

The distracted driving rule will be a secondary offense, which means police need another reason to pull-over the car. Tickets carry a $124 fine.

Some drivers, such as Zahniser, say that's a fair penalty for putting other drivers at risk.

"I'd say that's a reasonable fine for that offense," she said.

Others think the tickets don't go far enough.

"I think it should be more steeper," said bus commuter Brian Jones.

The county expects to collect about $75,000 a year once the fines start in 2013.

Officials say the tickets won't count against driving records.