For the third consecutive year, the Washington State Patrol is joining a state-wide campaign aimed at combating distracted driving.

Distracted driving is a serious concern when it comes to traffic safety— killing an average of 17 people each year in the state of Washington alone. The State Patrol recognizes April as Distracted Driving Awareness month and is asking people to put the phone down while driving.

As part of “Target Zero” – which strives to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030 – the WSP, along with other local law enforcement agencies, are running extra patrols from April 1-14th, 2016.

According to a study by the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center in Seattle, texting while driving increases crash risk by 23 times; that’s the equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.19.

WSP Lieutenant John Matagi explains, “We are keenly aware of today’s distractions when operating a motor vehicle. We are also aware of the danger this poses to the driver and others around them. Our public roads are just that, “public.” We want to ensure that our roads are a safe place to transport your products, business, and family. We would urge you to remember those around you and the impact your decisions have on our public roads.”

As of June 2010, Washington’s cell phone law came into full effect, giving officers permission to write a ticket if they see a phone to your ear or you sending a text message. Although there is a yearly crackdown on distracted driving, it still happens far too often and poses a major risk. In 2015, collisions involving handheld cellphones were up 19% from 2014.

Matagi asks “to please be considerate of those around you and give driving your full attention.”