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Law enforcement ramp up distracted driving patrols in Washington for April

Over 150 law enforcement agencies all over Washington state are conducting extra patrols aimed at catching distracted drivers. The patrols started Monday and run until April 14.

TRI-CITIES, Wash. - Thousands of drivers hit the roads every day in the Tri-Cities and, in spite of Washington's new distracted driving laws, many of them are driving while ‘intexticated.’

"A lot of people are still coming up to intersections and red lights and while they're waiting, they're jumping on their Facebook or Twitter or Instagram and they're reading the posts while they're still in traffic,” says Washington State Patrol Trooper Chris Thorson.

He says distracted driving is incredibly common: "A lot people don't admit the real reason they get into collisions, but most of the time, they tell us they just weren't paying attention, which is typically they're distracted by something else in the vehicle.”

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, a driver talking on their phone is three times more likely to end up in a crash. But if a driver types in data into their phone, either by texting or posting to Facebook, they're 23 times more likely.

To help kick the dangerous habit to the curb, over 150 law enforcement agencies all over Washington state are conducting extra patrols aimed at catching distracted drivers.

The patrols started Monday and run until April 14.

The commission also recently launched a new public service announcement aimed at parents and asking them to focus on their children's safety over checking the phone.

The patrols aren't meant to be inconvenient. Instead, Trooper Thorson says they're meant to save lives.

"The real reason is because people are actually dying out here on our highways in Washington state because people are driving distracted. That's the real reason behind all of this emphasis.”

Anyone caught using an electronic device can expect to pay $136 dollars the first time.

If they're caught a second time within five years, the fine jumps up to $234.

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