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City of Seattle
Mike McGinn (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Anti-Distraction Patrols happening this week in Seattle

8/16/2013  9:00:00 AM

Anti-Distraction Patrols happening this week in Seattle
Patrols are part of larger Road Safety Action Plan effort

SEATTLE - Anti-distraction emphasis patrols are happening this week on Seattle streets in an effort to reduce collisions associated with distractions such as cell phone use. These patrols are occurring in areas of the city with higher numbers of distraction-related collisions throughout the week.

The Seattle Police Department, Seattle Department of Transportation, Public Health - Seattle & King County, and others are working together toward a long-term goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries. This work is part of the Road Safety Action Plan launched in August of 2012.

"Reducing distraction is a top priority, along with speed reduction and addressing impaired driving," said Mayor McGinn. "Whatever mode of transportation you use, putting down the cell phone is one of the best things you can do to look out for each other on our roads."

Distraction is involved in nearly 1,000 collisions every year in Seattle. In a national survey, a quarter of teens reported responding to text messages once or more every time they drive, and in 2011, 3,331 people of all ages were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. Other types of distraction besides cell phone use include eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, using a navigation system, and using a radio or other music device.

In Seattle and in Washington State, it is illegal to text and drive. Talking on a handheld mobile device is a primary offense. For drivers with an intermediate driver's license, typical with teens under the age of 18, all cell phone use is banned, whether handheld or hands-free.

"Following the rules of the roads is essential for keeping each other safe, and that means not giving in to distractions," said Acting Chief Jim Pugel. "Our officers will be out there to enforce the laws that protect people on our roads."

In addition to emphasis patrols, PHSKC and the King County Target Zero Task Force are running public service announcements to publicize these patrols and to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. The health department is also working with the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center to study the implementation of Washington's cell phone distraction laws and driver behavior. Extra cell phone distraction patrols are happening now throughout King County until August 23, 2013.

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Office of the Mayor

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