May 16, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 4

In pursuit of unbuckled and distracted drivers

‘Click it or Ticket’ patrols take on texters and talkers

After years of taking on driving under the influence and not paying attention to pedestrians crossing roadways, local law enforcement are finally focusing on another issue – distracted drivers, particularly those included to talk or text on cell phones while behind the wheel.

Between May 20 and June 2, motorists in Spokane, Whitman, Pend Oreille and Ferry Counties can expect to see law enforcement patrolling city and county roads in search of drivers using their cell phones as well as those and their passengers who fail to use seat belts.

Seat belt emphasis patrols, “Click It or Ticket” have yielded positive results, driving seat belt usage from 82 percent of Washington drivers in 2002 when the primary seat belt law went into effect to nearly 97 percent of drivers buckling up today.

Last year, during same May-June 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 Spokane, Whitman, Pend Oreille and Ferry counties, the Cheney, city of Airway Heights, Colfax, Eastern Washington University, Pullman, Republic, Spokane, Spokane Valley and Washington State University Police Departments, the Ferry, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Whitman County Sheriff’s offices as well as the Washington State Patrol will be teaming up and participating in these extra patrols, with the support of the Spokane County Target Zero Task Force.

These and all extra patrols are part of Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030.

“These programs are one reason that Washington State is a national leader in traffic safety,” WSTC Commissioner and Spokane City Councilmember Jon Snyder said in a news release. “The goal of Target Zero is to eventually eliminate traffic deaths in our state.”

For more information, visit www.targetzero.com. Additional information on the Washington Traffic Safety Commission can be found on the website at www.wtsc.wa.gov.

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