Local distracted driving patrols starting November 11 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Local distracted driving patrols starting November 11

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BENTON AND FRANKLIN COUNTIES - Police officers in Benton and Franklin Counties will be out in November focusing on distracted drivers as part of the local high visibility enforcement patrols that begin on Friday, November 11th. The local enforcement is focused on motorists who are observed driving distracted -- talking on hand-held cell phones, sending text messages, and otherwise not paying attention to the road while driving.

Distracted driving is a public health and traffic safety issue. A 2013 study of Washington drivers found that nearly one in every ten drivers was observed using a cell phone or texting while driving. Among those driving distracted, nearly half (47 percent) were texting. Talking on a cell phone increases crash risk four times. Texting increases crash risk 23 times.

Locally, almost one-third of the fatal and serious injury collisions are related to distracted driving. In four years (2012 – 2015), distracted drivers in Benton and Franklin Counties were involved in collisions that killed 15 persons and seriously injured 60 others. That is why the Kennewick, Pasco, Prosser, Richland, and West Richland Police Departments, the Benton and Franklin County Sheriff’s Offices and the Washington State Patrol are teaming up to conduct these local enforcement patrols as part of Target Zero -- working to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030.