For the second year in a row, more than 100 law enforcement agencies in Washington State will be cracking down on distracted drivers as part of the national distracted driving campaign.

Between April 1 and April 15, officers will target motorists who are seen talking on handheld cell phones and sending text messages.

“U Drive. U Text. U Pay” is a campaign supported by the family of a student who died near Colfax while texting and driving.

Sam Thompson, 20, died September 12, 2014 after crossing the center line while texting and driving northbound on Highway 195 and colliding head-on with a semi-truck.

Sam’s parents, Jim and Lisa Thompson will unveil a sign to be erected this spring at the site near Colfax where Sam died. The sign and the extra statewide patrols will be in honor of Sam.

These patrols and all extra patrols are part of Target Zero, which is a campaign striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030.

 

Driver distraction is a leading factor in many crashes, and cell phone use and texting are two of the most common distractions. Many states and local jurisdictions are passing laws that address these behaviors.GHSA’s message to all drivers remains: don’t use cell phones or other electronic devices while driving, regardless of the current law.

GHSA recommends states ban hand-held cell phone use for all drivers. While texting and hand-held bans are both critical, texting bans by themselves can be difficult to enforce. In states with texting but not hand-held bans, a driver may claim they were dialing a phone number when stopped by a police officer. Enforcement demonstration projects in New York, Connecticut, Delaware and California have shown that hand-held cell phone bans can be enforced effectively and can reduce driver use of a cell phone. See below for the specific policy language.

The It Can Wait® Campaign

GHSA supports the It Can Wait campaign. Spearheaded by AT&T, the goal of the campaign is to save lives by calling on the public, law enforcement, educators, corporations, consumer safety groups and legislators to help find solutions to prevent the dangers of texting and driving. Learn More

Research

In 2011, GHSA released Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do. The report summarizes what distracted driving is, how often drivers are distracted, how distraction impacts driver performance and what countermeasures may be most effective as well as what states can do to reduce distracted driving.

Among the findings:

  • Distractions affect driving performance.
  • Drivers frequently are distracted, perhaps as much as half the time.
  • Distractions are estimated to be associated with 15 to 25 percent of crashes at all levels.
  • Texting likely increases crash risk more than cell phone use.

Based on the existing research, the report urges states to:

  • Use low-cost engineering solutions such as edgeline and centerline rumble stripes to alert motorists who may drift.
  • Record distracted driving in crash reports.
  • Evaluate other distracted driving laws and programs.

In 2009, GHSA joined a coalition of safety and transportation groups in writing letters to key members of the U.S. House pdf icon [46 KB, 3 pgs.] and Senate pdf icon [47 KB, 3 pgs.] advocating a broad approach to distracted driving and supporting a strong federal role.