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State Patrol on the lookout to catch distracted drivers through Sept. 23

Photo courtesy of Washington State Patrol

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Troopers will be paying extra attention to find distracted drivers in the state of Washington this weekend.

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) will be on the lookout for drivers who are distracted by electronic devices from Friday, Sept. 21 until Sunday, Sept. 23 for a statewide emphasis.

Distracted driving is the cause of 30 percent of traffic-related deaths and 23 percent of serious injury crashes in the state, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

The WSP says they've contacted more than 18,000 distracted drivers so far this year, which is up from 2017 with just over 17,000 contacts.

Under state law, drivers are prohibited from using a personal electronic device while driving on a public highway, and while stopped in traffic or at a traffic light. Electronic devices include cell phones, laptops, tablets and gaming devices.

Drivers are allowed minimal use of their finger to swipe the device as a means of activating or deactivating it.

Drivers are also allowed to use hands-free electronic devices that only require a single touch or swipe.

The WSP is reminding folks the penalty for distracted driving is $136 for the first offense. If you're issued another within five years, the penalty would be raised to at least $234.

Troopers say each offense is reported to your insurance companies.

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