Survey finds fewer drivers in Washington distracted on the road since last year
SEATTLE, Wash. - A recent poll finds more drivers throughout Washington are more cautious since an updated distracted driving law was imposed last year.
According to a survey from PEMCO, drivers in Washington and Oregon said they are paying better attention due to stricter distracted driving laws which started being enforced in 2017.
Increased penalties and added emphasis in both states caused nearly two thirds of people to be more cautious on the road. Roughly one third of respondents said they now talk or text less often, or not at all.
The rules, known as E-DUI laws, were updated in 2017 to add harsher penalties for drivers caught on their phones or preoccupied with other distractions.
Under the stricter law, police can cite drivers simply for using a phone or tablet in Washington as of July 2017.
Using a device could lead to a fine of at least $136 if caught the first time, while drivers with two citations within five years could be charged $234 or more.
According to the Washington State Patrol, following a grace period when troopers gave more lenient warnings to violators, the agency issued 8,376 tickets for distracted driving.
While laws in both states forbid holding or touching electronic devices, drivers can use their smartphone as long as they’re not holding it.
The PEMCO survey found, however, only 19 percent of drivers said they have a dashboard mount or docking accessory to help access their phone without using both hands.
A summary of the study results can be found here.