Police departments across Washington state are adding patrols to crack down on distracted driving in the first two weeks of April.

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Police departments across Washington state are adding patrols to crack down on distracted driving in the first two weeks of April.

About $400,000 will be spent to supply about 6,000 extra enforcement hours at 150 law-enforcement agencies, using federal dollars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration (NHTSA), said Angie Ward, program manager for the Washington Transportation Safety Commission.

During a similar emphasis in April 2014, officers issued 5,412 citations for distracted driving, more than double in a typical month, she said.

The commission encourages motorists to stow their cellphones in a glove compartment and says people should avoid calling friends and family who are driving.

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In 2015, there were 171 distracted-driving deaths in Washington, from all causes including smartphones, totaling about one-third of all state road deaths.

The penalty is $136 to text while driving or to hold a conversation with the cellphone next to the ear.

So far this year, the House and Senate have passed versions of a tougher “driving under the influence of electronics” act. These would broaden the ban to include watching video, using any handheld device or using dashboard-mounted devices beyond a simple finger touch, effective Jan. 1, 2018. Penalties would increase to about $245 on the second offense.