Next week traffic enforcement in Washington State will focus on distracted driving with agencies paying special attention to those who make a habit of texting, or putting a cell phone to their ear when driving. Both practises are illegal in both Oregon and Washington already but the Washington "Target Zero" task force plans to put an exclamation point on the issue.
In 2000 Washington put an ambitious plan together dubbed Target Zero with the goal of eliminating death and serious injuries in traffic accidents by the year 2030. The Plan was updated in 2010. The Washington State Traffic Safety Commission credits the plan with the fact that 13 years later 97% of Washington drivers buckle up. The multi-page plan approved by then Governor Christine Gregiore details specific enforcement strategies and public outreach campaigns many of which are familiar to drivers such as 'Click It, Or Ticket". State money is set aside to pay for concentrated enforcement and the next focus enforcement is all about use of cell phones while driving. The latest statistics show that for the first time the number of serious accidents in Washington found to be caused by distracted drivers has outpaced driving under the influence by a few thousand reported cases.
The new slogan " Text, Talk, Ticket...Hang up and Drive" will be seen posted throughout the state much like "Click It, Or Ticket".
Between May 20 and June 2, motorists in Pacific County can expect to see law enforcement patrolling city and county roads in search of unbuckled drivers and passengers and drivers using their cell phones. Last year, during this same time period, officers on routine and extra patrols statewide issued 3,171 seat belt violations amongst the 11,047 motorists who were stopped.
Similarly, last year during this time period, 1,059 cell phone violations were written. However, taking a historical look, in 2010, (the same year cell phone use became a primary law in Washington), only 63 drivers were cited statewide. In Pacific County, the Raymond and South Bend Police Departments, the Pacific County Sheriff's Office and the Washington State Patrol will be teaming up and participating in these extra patrols, with the support of the Pacific County Target Zero Task Force.