The Washington State Patrol suspects that many of the collisions that cause traffic back-ups and delays are caused by people who are texting and driving at relatively low speeds.

People feel more comfortable in that opportunity to reach over and check a text message or send a text message because [they're] only traveling 15 miles an hour, said Sgt. Jason Hicks with the Washington State Patrol.

Troopers admit they are making this claim without the data to back it up. For one reason, they lack the legal authority to search cell phones for evidence in minor collisions. Another reason is that drivers won't tell the truth.

Of course we ask the question were you on your cell phone or were you texting, said Sgt. Hicks. Generally the answer to that is 'no.'

Troopers cited over 1,000 drivers last year for texting at the wheel. Over 6,600 drivers were cited for talking on their cell phones without using a hands free device. The fine for any cell phone violation is $124. If the traffic violation results in a collision, additional fees could be added.

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