Police ramp up patrols for distracted drivers

  • Thursday, March 28, 2019 9:30am
  • News

More than 150 law enforcement agencies around the state — including Bainbridge Island — are adding extra patrols looking for distracted drivers over the next two weeks.

The added patrol emphasis started Thursday, March 28 and will continue through Sunday, April 14.

Other local agencies joining Bainbridge in the enforcement effort include the Bremerton Island Police Department, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Naval Base Kitsap Police Department, Port Orchard Police Department, Poulsbo Police Department, Suquamish Police Department, and the Washington State Patrol.

Authorities are reminding drivers that it is illegal for drivers to hold cell phones, access information or watch videos while they are driving, stopped in traffic or at a stop light.

Violators are charged $136 for the first offense and $234 for the second.

“Washington drivers need to know that if they’re on the road, they should be off the phone,” said Marsha Masters, Target Zero manager for the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

“If you’re distracted, law enforcement is focused on finding and ticketing you,” she said. “Fortunately, there are signs that Washington drivers are increasingly taking safety into their own hands, by keeping their hands off their phones.”

According to an observational study conducted in November 2018 by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, hand held cell phone use was down 40 percent in 2018 from 2017.

Kitsap County experienced the most significant decreases in distracted driving rates, officials said, starting at 20.5 percent in 2016, declining to 12.6 percent in 2017, and dropping to 4.0 percent in 2018.

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