SPOKANE, Wash. - Distracted drivers beware! We have important information to tell you tonight about a crackdown on cell phone use behind the wheel.
Especially in April, you can expect a lot more troopers patrolling highways for distracted drivers. Agencies across the state are adding extra patrols specifically looking for drivers using their cell phone.
We did a ride along with Trooper Rob Nance from Washington State Patrol on Thursday as he looked for drivers who were not paying full attention to the road.
"Today I've already stopped three people for cell phone use,” said the Trooper before we started our ride along.
And it wasn't long before he tracked down a few more.
The crack down on cell phone use is part of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission's 'U text, U drive, U pay' initiative. If you are texting or talking on your phone behind the wheel, you are likely to get pulled over.
Trooper Nance said, "It's illegal to hold the phone up to your ear. You can use a hands free device or you can put it on speaker phone.
One driver had recently moved from out of state, so the Trooper gave her a warning.
"She wasn't sure of the law, she figured once I came up behind her. So we're just going to give her a warning and educate her,” said Nance.
But shortly after that driver pulled away, Trooper Nance spotted another driver on his phone.
"Let me see your license, insurance, and registration. The reason for the stop today is you were on your cell phone." said the Trooper. The driver responded, “Yeah, I'm running late."
But this driver knew the law.
"He knows completely so he is going to get cited for that."
Throughout the day, Trooper Nance gave out two citations and one warning. And he'll be continuing to do these distracted driving emphasis patrols throughout April.
"When you're behind the wheel, make sure your focus is on driving,” he advised.
April is distracted driving awareness month, and this emphasis patrol's message is, 'U text, U drive, U pay.' The distracted driving citation is $136, which is a lot more expensive than buying yourself a bluetooth.