State cracks down on distracted driving

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Law enforcement officers throughout the state will crack down on distracted drivers starting later this week as part of a new national distracted-driving enforcement campaign.

Officers from more than 100 agencies will target motorists whom they observe driving while distracted starting Thursday through April 15, according to a Washington Traffic Safety Commission news release.

Motorists will be pulled over for actions such as talking on hand-held cellphones, sending text messages or otherwise not paying attention to the road.

The extra patrols in Washington are part of Target Zero, a safety plan that strives to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030, and the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” national campaign.

A study of Washington drivers conducted by the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center found that nearly one in 10 drivers observed used a cellphone to call or text behind the wheel. Of those driving while distracted, 47 percent were texting, according to the study.

Washington law prohibits using a hand-held communication device or sending, writing or reading a text message while driving.

The fine for cellphone use while driving is $124; the fine increases if there is a crash.

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