Morning pile-up on I-5 caused by distracted drivers, troopers say (VIDEO)

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SEATTLE — A huge traffic pileup that blocked all northbound lanes of Interstate 5 near the Washington State Convention Center Tuesday morning was caused by distracted driving, Washington State Patrol troopers said.

Trooper Chris Webb said a driver had dropped his cell phone, went down to pick it up, and didn’t realize the traffic had stopped until he looked back up. Webb said the driver wasn’t able to stop in time and crashed into a car in front of him, causing that car to hit others.

“He shouldn’t have had a phone in his hands in the first place,” said Trooper Webb.

Webb said the impact of the initial crash was so severe, the initial pick-up truck that started the crash ignited into flames.

“When you’re driving, you have to be attentive to what’s going on around you,” said Webb.  “It’s a multitask-type job, so when people start veering away from what they’re doing-things like this happen.”

WSDOT first tweeted about the traffic backup around 8 a.m. Tuesday . At 8:37 a.m., all traffic was forced off at Olive Way, and the traffic grew to a 7-mile backup on I-5.  By 10 a.m., WSDOT said three lanes of Interstate 5 through downtown Seattle reopened, but traffic delays were omnipresent across the region.

The Washington State Patrol reports the Tuesday morning accident sparked a truck fire. Emergency personnel were on the scene and there were reports of injuries. Distracted driving was involved, troopers said.

Transportation officials still advised drivers to use alternate routes early in the afternoon.

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  • Lead By Example

    If the cops want us to stop using our phones, perhaps they should put away their phones, tablets and laptops!

    • BearTex3

      That’s your response. First off they are exempt from that law because they have to use them. What should they do when they need to run a plate pull over and look it up and then try to catch the driver who might need to be checked out. Wow

      • Lead By Example

        Hands free devices aren’t exclusive to the public. Law enforcement can also use bluetooth hands-free devices. They don’t need to be surfing their laptops while driving. As they say in this article “When you’re driving, you have to be attentive to what’s going on around you,” – I guess they’re okay to be unsafe? Exempt from the law, yes. For good reason, no. Technology is available for them to be just as safe as us.

        Watch them when you see them. They’ll be on their cell phones while driving, texting, or even surfing the net. They’ll also be parked in no parking zones, using HOV lanes while off duty and out of their jurisdiction, exceeding the speed limits without emergency flashers going, the list goes on and on. Point is, they are NOT above the law. The exemption you bring up is one of the rules that makes them feel they are.

        So they have “specialized training” to use these devices? Where is the class I can take to have this exemption as well? I assure you that anything a cop can pass, many others can as well. Did you miss the Everett wreck where the cop blew the stop sign and killed someone last week? How much would you bet he was making use of this exemption? For them to continue demonizing an activity they participate in is bogus. Lead by example!

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