texting while driving

LM Otero / Associated Press

Researchers say more than 8 percent of drivers in Washington state are distracted by electronic devices, including many who are actively texting on the roadway.

A study released Monday by the University of Washington found that nearly half of distracted drivers were observed texting. Researchers compiled their numbers after observing 7,800 motorists at intersections in six counties.

If you are a distracted driver, then it’s time to put the phone down.

Over the next few weeks, Washington State Patrol and local law enforcement officers will be putting more resources into ticketing drivers who aren’t paying attention to the road. Between now and Aug. 23, officers in unmarked cars will be solely focused on scanning the roads to see if drivers are talking on cell phones or texting.

Washington State has the highest rate of seat belt use in the nation. That’s according to a report recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Bob Calkins with the Washington State Patrol keeps an eye on the statistics.

“The national average is 84 percent. We are first among competing states at 97 and a half percent,” he says.

Following Washington are California, Oregon and Hawaii.

No more texting, but what about mapping while driving?

Apr 9, 2012

Beginning this summer, texting will be illegal for drivers across all three Northwest states. Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed a bill Thursday that outlaws texting while driving on Idaho roads. But in the age of the smartphone, text messages aren’t the only distraction on the tiny screen.

If you can’t text , then all three states say it’s pretty clear that means you can’t send email in traffic either, , or, for that matter, surf the web. And there are already laws on the books that ban watching TV while driving, so that means YouTube is out.

Paula Wissel/KPLU

How do you convince someone not to text or talk on the cell phone while  driving?  How about an in-your- face reminder of what can happen if you do?  That's the tactic Seattle Police have been using this week. 

They've been parking a black Honda, with the driver's side smashed in, outside area high schools.  A Tumwater teenager, Heather Lerch, died in the car in February of 2010 while texting and driving.