Distracted driving crackdown resulted in lots of stops, but problem persists

text and drive

The person driving on Highway 3 Thursday afternoon held the phone against the steering wheel with one hand and punched buttons with the other.

I punched the gas (ahem) and tried to get ahead of them.

Oddly enough, the person seemed more in control of their car than the person not too far behind, bobbing around the right lane, a cell phone pressed against their head.

The county waged a concerted effort to crack down on distracted driving earlier this month, from April 10 to 15, pulling people over, writing tickets. But after a few minutes on the highway, it looks like the crackdown never happened.

Even with the pleas from safety advocates, the state outlawing it and cops being paid overtime to just look for people chit-chatting without a hands free device and texting, it’s still plainly obvious texting and talking is endemic.

A study from Harborview Injury and Prevention Center found one in 10 drivers were seen texting or talking on a mobile phone.

Deputy Scott Wilson, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, compared it to smoking. The government can do a lot, but it can’t assign a cop to each driver.

Ultimately, it will be up to people to change their own behavior, he said.

The prohibition is a popular law, the recent effort to get the point across was cheered by many.

About 35 troopers, deputies and officers spent 140 overtime hours on the road, making 467 contacts with drivers suspected of not paying attention to what they were doing.

Those contacts resulted in 141 tickets for talking on mobile phones and 13 for texting or using other electronic devices, according to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office.

The lopsided results — more tickets for talking than texting — may be a result of how obvious cell phone usage is compared to texting, where the device is usually kept in a driver’s lap.

One Leadership Kitsap group is planning a project where they give away zip-lock bags to combat the problem. The hope is that people will stick their phones in the bag to serve as a reminder to leave their phones alone while driving. But that idea relies on people to change their own behavior.

“What’s it going to take? Something real startling happening to them to make them sit up and think a second time,” Wilson said.

3 thoughts on “Distracted driving crackdown resulted in lots of stops, but problem persists

  1. Raise the fine from $124 to $250 (to also include “reaching for a tissue”).

    OK, so 154 tickets were written and “if” the County collects the entire $19,096, does the share the County keeps cover the 140 hours of overtime?

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