Statewide law enforcement cracks down on drivers with cellphones

by: Natasha Chen Updated:

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LAKE FOREST PARK, Wash. - For five days beginning April 10, law enforcement agencies across the state will have more officers on the street specifically to cite people who are using cellphones while they drive.

A citation for distracted driving results in a $124 fine.

Lake Forest Park police had a captain and two officers citing drivers Thursday during morning and evening rush hours, to see how many people they would be dealing with.

Within about two hours’ time, they pulled over 21 people for distracted driving and one person for driving under the influence.

Officer Morris Parrish said that when the statewide emphasis begins, there will be more officers on the road.

He said drivers should go hands-free.

“Having your phone in your lap is different than, say, having your phone pressed up to your ear,” he said.

Along Bothell Way, officers have noticed heavier traffic. Part of that is due to people trying to avoid toll roads, according to Parrish.

There were a little more than 100 crashes in 2011, compared to 161 in 2013.

The intersection with the most crashes in the last five years is Bothell Way Northeast and Northeast 170th Place.

Within half an hour, KIRO 7 observed 14 people talking or texting on their phones.

At Lake City Way Northeast and Northeast 127th St., 11 drivers on their phones passed through there within 30 minutes.

Some drivers said the special emphasis may not stop them from using their phones.

”I’ll just drop my phone, and I’ll yell at the person I’m talking to. ‘Hey I just saw a cop, so I’ll pick up my phone in a second!’” said Michael Hanson.

Another driver, Mel Conner, said it may affect people only for a short while.

“I know I’ve gotten speeding tickets, and that slows me down for a year or two,” Conner said.

Some said unfortunately, drivers would only stop texting or calling when they experience an accident.

In May 2013, a driver killed one of his passengers, when he looked at a cellphone picture of a scantily clad woman and crashed into a guard rail.

In King County, between 2008-2012, 20 percent of fatal crashes involved distracted drivers.