NEWPORT— It has been nearly two weeks since Washington state’s new distracted driving law went into effect.
The Washington State Patrol ran stats to see how the first week of the law differed from the week before the law went into effect.
The Distracted While Under the Influence of Electronics law took effect on July 23, 2017. From Sunday July 23 to Saturday July 29, troopers contacted this many motorist for violating the new distracted driving law:
• Contacts — 337
• Citations — 27
• Written warnings — 4
• Verbal warnings — 306
During the previous week of Sunday July 16 to Saturday July 22, troopers stopped this number of cell phone violators:
• Contacts — 273
• Citations — 118
• Written warnings — 0
• Verbal warnings — 155
In 2016 the Washington State Patrol Troopers enforced both the cell phone handheld and cell phone texting laws. Both laws were replaced by the current law. Here are 2016 statistics:
• Contacts — 16,884
• Citations — 7,941
• Written Warnings — 114
• Verbal Warnings — 8,805
The Washington State Patrol is currently running a six-month “grace” period. Basically meaning troopers are looking to educate more drivers on the new law, not ticket them. However, it’s important to remember just because we will be in the “grace” period until January, doesn’t mean drivers get a free pass. If troopers observe distracted driving violations coupled with other dangerous driving behaviors, or if you’ve already received a warning about the new law, you run the risk of getting a ticket.
According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, fatalities in Washington State caused by distracted driving increased 32 percent from 2014-2015.
We know a lot of people – both Washingtonians and those traveling through the state – about the new law. Last month we published a few articles to help drivers better understand how this will impact them.