'High visibility' distracted driving crackdown begins

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 7:21 AM

Updated Thursday, Apr 10 at 9:55 AM

Washington state joined a nationwide crackdown on distracted driving Thursday with what is being called “high visibility enforcement” of drivers who are seen using their cell phones while driving or otherwise not paying attention to the road.

Law enforcement in Washington state will conduct these patrols between Thursday and Tuesday. It’s part of the month-long "U Drive. U Text. U Pay." campaign happening across the country.

"We hear from citizens on a regular basis that they want stricter enforcement of distracted driving laws," said Washington Traffic Safety Commission Director, Darrin Grondel in a statement. "This effort gives us the chance to provide funding to more than 100 law enforcement agencies throughout Washington to do just that."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a 30-second ad that has been described as “scary” and “chilling.” It shows a group of young people in a car while the driver is checks a text message. As she looks at her phone for a moment, she fails to see a stop sign. The car is then hit from the side by a big truck.

The car flips over multiple times, killing the driver.

“Nobody likes to be stopped by the police,” said an officer at the crash scene. “But if I'd seen her texting while driving, it just might have saved her life.”

Car companies are also taking notice and are becoming more proactive in trying to simplify and prevent distracted driving by improving voice commands and pedestrian detection systems.

“There is no doubt that there is a marketing element to these interfaces, but there is a safety aspect to it. They have to make these cars safe, otherwise the government is going to step in and say, ‘you've got to make this better, ’" said car industry expert Tom Voelk.

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