Distracted driving — specifically involving drivers who talk or text on their cellphones — is among the leading causes for accidents or collisions.
While eating a hamburger or putting on makeup while behind the wheel can be just as distracting, cellphones in particular take a driver’s eyes, hands and mind off of paying attention to what is going on around them outside their vehicle.
Working with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, the Puyallup Police Department is taking part in distracted driving patrols through April 14 as part of the Target Zero campaign, with the goal of ending traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.
“We’re looking for people who are distracted,” said Sgt. Bob Thompson with the Puyallup Police Department. “Talking or texting takes their mind off the task of driving. It’s another way for us to get the word out about education and enforcement.”
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As part of the enforcement, the Puyallup Police Department will receive $1,450 in grant money, as the patrols are done on an overtime basis.
“It’s a common problem here in Puyallup,” Thompson said. “People are very distracted. It would reduce the number of collisions if people left their phones alone while they were driving.”
While Thompson has worked on the force for 28 years, he says within the last four to five years the number of distracted drivers he’s seen on a day-to-day basis has increased.
“When you’re driving, there’s absolutely nothing that is more important than what’s on your phone,” he said. “We want people to get from point A to point B safely.”
In a press release from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, one in ten drivers — and one third of pedestrians — were distracted by cellphone use.
“Taken together, this research has serious implications for people who think it’s safe to dial or send a text message at a stoplight,” said Dr. Beth Ebel, lead author of the studies. “Even if drivers stop talking or texting before the light turns green, they still don’t take in all the important elements in their surroundings for another 30 seconds. Couple this with pedestrians who may also be distracted and it’s a recipe for a trip to the emergency room, or worse.”
A distracted driving ticket is $124, and could be more if a driver causes a crash.