State patrol and legislators work to crack down on distracted driving
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- April is distracted driving awareness month and Washington State Patrol troopers and legislators are working on ways to crack down on the dangerous behavior.
Adolfo Garcia was driving Thursday morning with his phone to his ear, which is illegal in our state.
But it wasn't long before state patrol cracked down on him.
"I answered my phone and I got caught," said Garcia.
Trooper Chris Thorson pulled Garcia over after seeing what he says is distracted driving.
“I learned a lesson. I guess from now on I won’t answer the phone anymore," said Garcia.
This example is why more state troopers are out raising awareness on the dangers of not paying attention on the road.
Especially since reports show distracted driving deaths increased by 32-percent in our state from 2014 to 2015.
"What we're looking for is people talking on their cell-phones and texting while driving," said Trooper Chris Thorson of State Patrol.
Under current law, you can't text while driving or hold your phone to your ear. It’s against the rules of the road in Washington.
It's a $136 fine if you're caught.
"You may think that updating your Facebook status or texting may only take one or two seconds, but it actually takes five to ten seconds. That whole time that you're not paying attention to what's happening in front of you and that may lead to taking someone's life," said Thorson.
A recent study by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission shows 71-percent of distracted drivers are distracted by their phones.
Also, drivers are up to four times more likely to be in a crash when talking on the phone.
A new bill will change the way many drivers use their phones entirely.
House bill 1371 would make it illegal to just hold a phone at all while driving.
That means you can't scroll through social media apps or emails even when you're at a stop light.
The bill also doubles the cost to about $235 for the second and later offenses.
Right now, the bill is through the house and is on the senate floor.