SEATTLE - Authorities across Washington state will begin cracking down on drivers using their cellphones behind the wheel.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness month, and nearly 150 law enforcement agencies around the state are adding extra patrols to part in the crackdown, which kicks off Monday.
Officers will increase patrols to look for drivers who are texting or talking on the phone, which is prohibited under state law.
Violators face a $136 fine.
“We want drivers to understand that you can operate a car. Or you can operate your phone. But you can’t be safe and do both at once," says Angie Ward, program manager with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC).
The increased enforcement will take place over two weeks between April 3-14 and is part of the Target Zero campaign, a statewide initiative to reduce the number of traffic deaths and serious injuries to zero by 2030.
A recent study by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission shows more than two-thirds of distracted drivers are distracted by their cellphones.
In 2014, citings for illegal cell phone use while driving increased 197 percent, says the WTSC.