July 23rd one year since Governor Jay Inslee signed Washington’s Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (E-DUI) law into effect. Under the E-DUI law, drivers may not hold cell phones or watch videos while they are driving, stopped in traffic, or at a stop light. The law restricts hands-free use to a single touch.
Law enforcement agencies in King County are running extra patrols from July 23 to July 29 to look out for distracted drivers and increase the safety of King County’s roadways. The first E-DUI ticket costs drivers $136. If the driver incurs a second ticket within five years, the fine increases to $234.
“Distracted driving contributes to countless traffic injuries and deaths every year,” says Sergeant Brian Williams of the Auburn Police Department. “These tragedies are completely preventable by focusing on the road and putting away or turning off phones while driving.”
The King County Target Zero Task Force recently conducted a study to learn how well motorists understand and adhere to the law. The study found that a number of drivers are still unsure if it is legal to enter information into a GPS system while driving (only if it can be done with a single touch), use a cell phone while stopped at an intersection (illegal), or dial 9-1-1 while driving in the case of an emergency (legal).
The survey also revealed that while drivers in King County acknowledge that using a phone while driving is dangerous and understand it’s illegal, many are still reluctant to put their phone away. More than 70 percent of the 900 King County drivers surveyed viewed texting or emailing by others while driving as a very serious personal threat. However, 75 percent of drivers believe it’s very unlikely that they will crash their vehicle by texting while driving.
“Our goal is to make putting your phone away as common as putting your sea belt on,” says Sergeant Robb Kramp of the Mercer Island Police Department. “One out of four crashes involve cell phone use just prior to the crash, but if we all commit to focusing on driving and not our phones, we can save lives in our community.”
Drivers can visit the Washington Traffic Safety Commission’s Target Zero website to learn all the dos and don’ts of the new law. Materials are available in seven languages.
Agencies participating in the extra patrols this week include: Algona, Auburn, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Burien, Covington, Des Moines, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Maple Valley, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Pacific, Port of Seattle, Redmond, Sammamish, SeaTac, Seattle, Shoreline, Snoqualmie, and Tukwila police departments.
Source: Public Health Seattle King County
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