According to information released Thursday by the Washington (State) Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC),  digitally distracted driving deaths have dropped about 22 percent.

The Commission says just prior to the passing of newer, stiffer distracted driving penalties, 155 people died on Washington roads in 2016 in accidents involving a driver who was on their cellphone, tablet or otherwise 'looking' at an electronic device.

In 2019, that number dropped by 33, down to 122, 22 percent less.  Although that's not as much as the WTSC would like, they also say the number of surveyed drivers who are aware of the newer penalties has done up a lot. According to the data:

  • "Most (74 percent) know that using a hand-held cell phone while driving is illegal
  • Most (68 percent) know that using a cell phone at a traffic light is illegal
  • Most (69 percent) agree that using a hand-held cell phone while driving is dangerous"

Officials with the WTSC say those numbers are much higher than prior to the laws taking effect, and they believe the state is making good progress towards curbing digital distraction behind the wheel.