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Troopers cracking down on distracted driving in April

Troopers cracking down on distracted driving this month

YAKIMA, Wash. – “Don't even check it at a stoplight,” said Washington State Patrol Trooper Sarah Clasen.

She says keep your eyes on the road. Driving while distracted has contributed to an increased number of deaths on the road in the state of Washington.

“Between 2013 and 2016, we had a 29 percent increase with distracted driving on traffic fatalities, so we're really working on focusing on citing distracted drivers and having people focus on driving when they're driving,” said Clasen.

April marks Distracted Driving Awareness Month. State patrol will have more troopers out on the highways, with the goal of catching people on their cell phones behind the wheel.

Clasen says it's the perfect time to remind drivers, especially teens, of the rules of the road.

“It's gonna be spring break for a lot of schools in the area, so there's gonna be kids on the road, people out and about. It's important that they're off their phones, not texting or calling their friends, checking Facebook - whatever it is they're doing,” she said.

Troopers say it's easy to spot people on their cell phones while driving, even if it's for a split second.

Sofia Valdovinos says she drives the streets of Yakima all the time, and she says she's guilty of going through her playlist, when she should be focused on the road.

“My music - to like switch my music, and I think that's not a good idea, but sometimes you don't pay attention. It’s just so distracting all the time,” said Valdovinos.

Josh Farnsworth lives in Yakima. He says it's a great idea to have more troopers patrolling the highways, if it means saving lives. He has some advice for drivers:

“Just don't use your cell phone. Use it before you go and when you come back, and just try to remember to keep two hands on the wheel,” said Farnsworth.

Your first ticket will cost you $136, and your second could be $234, if within five years of your first.

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