WSP: Texting during gridlock makes traffic worse

SEATTLE -- Many drivers stuck in traffic gridlock reach for their cell phones, but Washington State Patrol officials say texting is making traffic worse for everyone.

Everyone knows that texting and driving is dangerous, but WSP troopers say it can be especially hard to resist the phone when traffic is hardly moving.

"If it's definitely a stop light I might text, or if I'm stopped in traffic I might text," said driver Page Crutcher.

It's that attitude that troopers say is the problem. They don't have any hard data to back it up, but troopers have a hunch that bad traffic is exacerbated by small fender benders caused by distracted drivers.

WSP officials say people get more comfortable looking at a phone when they're traveling slower, but even slow-speed wrecks can cause traffic backups.

"Basically it's the delay it causes in the traffic flow," said trooper Jason Hicks. "Freight can't get where they're trying to go and individuals get frustrated because now they're stuck in the traffic."

Some drivers say they have no problem resisting the temptation to use their phones in the car, but others admit they need to remove the temptation altogether.

"It is hard to resist," one driver said. "I think it's wrong, so it's probably better to just put your phone in the back seat, out of reach."

Troopers cited 1,000 drivers last year for texting while driving. The fine for any cell phone violation is $124, which makes for an expensive text message.