Driving Drunk? Yakima Police Say a Jail Cell is Waiting For You
Yakima Police emphasis patrols continue in the city as police search for drivers who are drunk or on drugs behind the wheel. During the week of April 2 through April 8 officers made a total of 775 traffic stops and arrested 11 drivers for driving under the influence. The week before 8 drivers were arrested for DUI. Police say on average they arrest 8 to 12 impaired drivers every week. Remember there are extra 24 hour patrols happening all around the state this month during distracted driving awareness month so a lot more eyes are on the road looking for violators.
IF YOU'RE DRIVING DISTRACTED OR DRUNK THEY'RE BOTH DANGEROUS
Along with patrols searching for speeders Officers are also looking for distracted drivers. “Focused driving means safer roads,” says Erika Mascorro, Washington Traffic Safety Commission Program Manager for Distracted Driving. “The decline in distracted drivers gives us something to cheer as we kick-off distracted driving month. Seeing more people focused on driving is motivation to get all of us off the phone when we’re on the road.”
Despite the recent decline Washington's distracted driving rate climbed nearly three points in 2020 over 2019. Officials say in 2021 the rate declined to its pre-pandemic level.
MORE PEOPLE ARE DYING BEHIND THE WHEEL
But while distracted driving is down fatalities are up. Traffic fatalities that began increasing in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, continued and worsened in 2021. Unofficial numbers show further worsening in 2022.
What's the most common type of distracted driving authorities see in Yakima and around the state? Drivers using cell phones.
PUT DOWN THAT PHONE DOWN AND DRIVE
In 2017, the legislature passed Washington’s current distracted driving law, which bans hand-held cell phone use while driving, stopped in traffic, or while at a stop light. Commission officials say since the law was passed, distracted driving deaths have decreased 40 percent, from 155 in 2017 to 93 in 2020.
If you use the phone while driving research shows it takes a driver 27 seconds to refocus on the road after using a cell phone, the time it can take to drive the length of three football fields in a car moving at 25 mph.
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Gallery Credit: Abby Monteil