Distracted Driving Rates Plummet in Tri-Cities in 2021–COVID Distraction?
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) has released a new report showing distracted driving rates in our state have dropped a lot between 2020 and 2021.
Benton-Franklin County Rates drop by more than five times their increase
The WTSC says overall the state rate dropped from 9.4 percent to 6.9 between the two years. Distracted driving is motorists who are pulled over and their infractions involve the use of some sort of digital device or other issue taking their attention off the road.
In our area, the numbers are staggering. Benton County went from a rate of 5.3 percent in 2019 to 13.0 in 2020, then dropped in 2021 to an even lower 2.0 percent.
In Franklin, the rates were even more pronounced. From 5.5 percent to 20.4, then dropping to 2.4 percent (all from 2019 through 2021).
WTSC officials attribute it in part to the efforts of area law enforcement, but also say drivers are noticeably making efforts to be safe behind the wheel--especially with digital device use.
Interestingly enough the counties that are still in double-digits include Clark (11.5 percent) Spokane, (12.8 percent) and the grand 'champion' is WALLA WALLA County. Their drivers, when pulled over, have a distraction rate of 13.7 percent.
Not sure why those counties are so distracted, but I can tell you, having driven up and back to Spokane a lot to watch our son's college football games at Whitworth, their drivers are nearly as crazy as King County. Really!
One of the conclusions you can draw from this is that during the first year of COVID, we were in a daze, a fog, and not really paying attention. Many experts agree that was the case.
The area law enforcement agencies who contributed data to this report in our region included:
Benton County Sheriff's Office
Franklin County Sheriff's Office
Kennewick Police Department
Pasco Police Department
Richland Police Department
Washington State Patrol
West Richland Police Department
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