Washington State -

Many slowdowns and minor accidents on the freeway may be caused by texting and driving, according to the Washington State Patrol. 

The agency can't determine how many collisions are caused by texters, but believe it is a major source of the problem.

People at the Park and Ride near Pines and Indiana in Spokane Valley said they're are disgusted by texters.

"Basically you're not focusing on the road," Craig Sior said.

"I see more people texting or on the phone than I see not on the phone," Stephany Slocum said.

"I've almost been rear-ended several times," Betty Ericksen added.

Ericksen is glad Washington state has laws against talking and texting while driving, but doesn't think it goes far enough.

"The law itself doesn't seem to be making a difference," she said.

KXLY did a ridealong with Trooper Morgan Mehaffey in May as the WSP started its talking and texting emphasis patrols. Most of the people pulled over were ticketed for talking on their phones, not texting. In fact, the WSP handed out infractions to just three people a day for texting while driving last year.

The WSP stated they can account for the number of people killed by speeding, impaired driving or the failure to wear a seat belt. Not so with texting-while-driving collisions, which cause only minor property damage.

WSP Chief John Batiste stated in the release, "we do not have the legal authority to get search warrants for cell phone records in cases of minor collisions...our priority in those cases is to get traffic moving again."

Driver Stephany Slocum agreed.

"I think he's pretty accurate. I don't know how you'd ever verify that because you can't catch everybody," she said.

Still, the WSP believes texting drivers are slowing traffic, causing minor collisions, and impacting the state's freight economy because of it. Drivers we talked with agree, and wish people would focus more on the road and the others traveling around them.

"Hope that parents would stop doing it so their kids would see and not do it as well," Slocum said.

"I really don't know, because people are going to do what they want to do," Betty Ericksen said.

State troopers cited more than 1,000 drivers last year for texting at the wheel. Over 6,600 drivers were cited for talking on their cell phones. Those fines are $124.