Police Crack Down on Dangerous Distracted Drivers
Distracted driving month is in April but Yakima Police say they see the problem every month in the city of Yakima. Police say distracted driving is the cause of a lot of crashes in Yakima. Capt. Shawn Boyle with the Yakima Police Department says they see drivers distracted all the time the reason why they conduct ongoing emphasis patrols around the city.
IN 2017 THE STATE PASSED THE E-DUI LAW
It's not only a problem in Yakima but all around the state. Officials with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission say thousands of people everyday continue to risk safety by talking or texting on a cell phone while driving or doing other things behind the wheel instead of driving.
In 2017 the State of Washington passed what's called the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act (E-DUI). Driving distracted could mean a driver is on a phone, putting on makeup, eating or changing music.
1 YEAR BEFORE THE E-DUI LAW WAS PASSED 155 PEOPLE DIED
In 2016, the year before the law passed, 155 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. In 2019 the most recent information available, two years after the new law, 33 fewer distracted driving-related deaths happened. Traffic safety officials also estimate that Washington’s driver distraction rate was 6.8 percent in 2019, based on the 2019 Statewide Distracted Driving Observational Study.
TALKING ON A CELL PHONE? THAT'S THE MOST DANGEROUS
Cell phones remain the greatest source of distraction, with two of every three distracted drivers in Washington observed either using or talking on a hand-held phone. The observational study also found slightly more people distracted on city streets than county roads or state routes. Yakima Police say distracted drivers and drivers not paying attention to traffic lights and signs are the things that lead to a lot of crashes in the city of Yakima.
State officials say 30% of all fatal crashes still involve a distracted driver. 23% of all serious crashes are due to distracted drivers and 70% were found to be using cell phones.
Capt. Boyle says the aim with emphasis patrols is educational but he says some drivers are being cited for breaking traffic laws.