Wash. Patrols to Crackdown on Texting Drivers

By Liz Jones

You’ve probably heard the slogan “Click It or Ticket” to promote seat belt safety. Now, Washington State is joining in a new national campaign to target people who text and drive. Special patrols will be out statewide, starting Thursday. This campaign comes with its own snappy slogan, too.

U-Drive, U-Text, U-Pay.

That's the tagline for this new campaign to target distracted drivers.

Matthews: "Cell phone violation right there."

Detective Tony Matthews is with the Police Department in Lake Forest Park. We’re standing along a busy stretch of Bothell Way, a few miles north of Seattle. Matthews is giving me a glimpse of how these special emphasis patrols work.

Matthews: "So just by standing here 3-4 minutes, 3 cell phone violations. All of which we can actually stop somebody for and cite them."

Each at a fine of $124 dollars. Matthews says statistics clearly show your risk of a traffic accident goes up when you text or talk on a cell phone. This campaign aims to change those behaviors, and cut out other distractions, like eating in the car. Matthews admits he sometimes grabs a bite on the road. But he’s trying stop.

The patrols will be out across the state for about a week. And Matthews warns, officers have heard all the excuses.

Matthews: "Oh, I just had to check my e-mail. Or ‘my mother called and she’s sick.’ I mean.."

So, if you do get stopped, you may wonder…can crying help you get out of a ticket?

Matthews: "Crying? They can do anything they want. Usually when we’re doing an emphasis we don’t give verbal warnings, so chances are pretty good that you’re going to actually get a ticket when we’re doing an emphasis."

Matthews suggests, if you really need to check your phone, just pull off to the side of the road. It only takes a few seconds.

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