Texting while driving is going to cost you

Published On: May 21 2013 07:14:35 PM PDT   Updated On: May 21 2013 07:15:38 PM PDT
Texting and driving
SPOKANE, Wash. -

It's time to put the cell phone down or be ticketed. Law enforcement around the state of Washington will conduct emphasis patrols to pull people over talking or texting for the next two weeks.

Troopers say texting while driving is so dangerous that if you text your friend "be there soon," your head may be down for 4 or 5 seconds. By the time you look up, you've traveled more than 100 yards with your head down.

"A lot can happen in that time traffic can slow down, cars change lanes, an animal's in the road, you never know," Trooper Morgan Mehaffey said.

It's really amazing all the tools troopers have to track down law-breakers. Trooper Mehaffey even has a radar on the back of his patrol car to tell if you're speeding behind him. But all he needs to tell your talking on the phone is a set of eyes.

"Got a little chicken wing sitting up there," he said about one driver talking on his phone.

For the next two weeks, four more WSP troopers in Spokane will cruise the freeways eye-balling texting, cell phone talking, no-seat-belt-wearing drivers.

"When you came by me, it was on your ear, and you had your arm up just like that," Trooper Morgan Mehaffey told the driver caught talking on his phone.

Had the driver used the speaker function, he would have been fine. Troopers say no cell phone usage is preferable.

"We're always looking for seat belts, and traffic safety issues to keep the public safe," Trooper Mehaffey said.

If you've gotten away with doing those things, you're not alone. Last year, on average, Troopers gave out less than three texting tickets a day across the state. However, they did issue about 18 cell phone tickets a day and 120 a day for seatbelt violations. The penalty, is $124.

"We need to be focused on what is actually happening because you're driving a car at 60 miles per hour, that weighs a minimum of 3,000 to 4,000 pounds. That's a big responsibility," Trooper Mehaffey.

In WSP District 4, or Spokane area, troopers only handed out 251 cell phone tickets and 26 texting tickets last year. District 4 includes the area from Colville to Colfax, and Ritzville to the eastern state line.