Decreasing distracted driving

Camas police issue tickets for drivers who talk or text on their cell phones

Camas Police Officer Tim Dickerson recently proved it does not pay to drive while talking or texting on a cell phone.

He participated Wednesday in a five-hour emphasis, to ticket drivers who were doing just that. The fine for each ticket was $124.

During that time in an unmarked police car, Dickerson gave tickets to several individuals who were seen talking on their cell phones. One of the earlier stops involved a woman who thought it was considered a secondary offense in Washington.

Talking or texting on a cell phone while driving has been a primary offense since June of last year. When it was classified as a secondary offense, police officers had to see the offenders also speeding, not stopping at a stop sign or not wearing a seat belt, in order to issue tickets.

During the emphasis, Dickerson ticketed a man who told him he had just finished a job interview and his wife called to see how it went. Later, he noticed a woman talking on a cell phone and driving by Grass Valley Park. The 19-year-old driver told Dickerson she answered the phone when her younger brother called from daycare.

Dickerson advises drivers to return a call after they have stopped.

“It’s easy to just pull over, find out who they missed and call them back,” he said. “We’ve been programmed to answer the phone when it rings. That carries over to a vehicle that weighs over a ton. You’ve got a lot of energy. You divide time between the cell phone and the car.

“People speak differently on the phone versus talking face to face,” Dickerson added. “When talking on their cell phone sometimes they get more animated, and that diverts their attention even more.”

Additional tickets were issued to a woman driving on the 3900 block of Northeast Everett Street and a female Camas High School student talking to a friend on her phone. Dickerson said the student had a bluetooth device located on her rear view mirror, but it was not hooked up yet.

The Camas Police Department received a $500 mini grant from the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs. The money will go toward the purchase of mini key chain flashlights that will be handed out Friday during the lunch break at CHS.

“Allstate Insurance is also partnering with us and suppling thumb bands that deal with not texting while driving,” said CPD Code Enforcement Officer Tami Strunk.

Dickerson, a former school resource officer, has been a Camas police officer for 25 years.

His goal when making traffic stops is to educate people and correct unlawful behavior.

Dickerson has been to training sessions, where the speakers talk about the differences between issuing warnings and citations.

“People who have been pulled over say they learn more if they are given a citation rather than a warning,” he said. “People appreciate a warning, but it does not necessarily change their behavior.”

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