'U Text, U Drive, U Pay': Distracted driving crackdown begins Monday


SEATTLE (KOMO) - Starting Monday, officers across the state will kick off a major crackdown focused on getting drivers to put down their phones when they're behind the wheel. If you’re caught, there’s a good chance you could be ticketed.

Nearly 150 law enforcement agencies statewide will take part in the crackdown, including more than 30 in the Seattle metropolitan area. They’ll be adding patrols to look specifically for drivers who are using their cell phones behind the wheel.

Under current state law, it’s illegal to text or hold your phone up to your ear while you’re driving, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. Violators could face a $136 fine.

The two-week focus is part of Target Zero, a statewide initiative to reduce traffic deaths and serious injuries across the state to zero by the year 2030.

A recent study by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission showed more than two-thirds of distracted drivers are distracted by their cell phones, the most dangerous type of distraction.

One driver told KOMO News on Sunday that he's been rear-ended twice, once by someone reading a newspaper, the other driver was putting makeup on, he said.

"Fortunately, neither of them were at high speeds, but it could have been. One of them was on the 520 bridge at peak traffic," said Kelly Berger.

"Whenever I’m driving, I always have my cell phone there but I don’t touch it at all. I just don’t feel comfortable taking my hands off the wheel in general," said driver Amanda Sanchez. "I just ignore it. My friends and family know I don’t answer if I’m driving just because it makes me feel unsafe."

A similar campaign in April 2014 showed tickets for illegal cell phone use while driving increased nearly 200 percent, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

The commission says while more tickets are being handed out during these patrols, you can be ticketed any time.

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