Distracted driving emphasis patrols started in King County on Sunday and run through June 13.

Anyone caught texting or talking on a phone without a hands-free device will get a $124 fine.

“We are getting the word out now so drivers get the message and put their phones down,” said Lieutenant Kurt Schwan, of the Federal Way Police Department. “You can avoid a ticket and more importantly help prevent another unnecessary crash.”

From 2011 to 2013, distracted driver-involved crashes accounted for more than 24 percent of all traffic deaths in King County, according to data from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. Distraction can include eating, reading, or adjusting music while driving.

But researchers are finding the dangers related to cell phone distraction are most alarming. According to a recent study by the University of Utah, those texting and driving are six times more likely to be in a crash than a drunk driver. Researchers also found that using a cell phone, handheld or hands-free, delays a driver’s reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08.

Researchers from the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center found that at any given time, one in 10 drivers in Washington is engaged with a cell phone while driving.

In Washington State, all drivers are prohibited from texting or talking on their cell phones without using a hands-free device. The fine for a violation is $124 and additional fees can be added if a collision occurs. Any drivers under the age of 18 cannot use a cell phone at all and could lose their license according to Washington’s intermediate driver’s license laws.

Police departments participating in the campaign: Algona, Auburn, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Burien, Covington, Des Moines, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Maple Valley, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Pacific, Port of Seattle, Redmond, SeaTac, Seattle, Snoqualmie, Woodinville and the Washington State Patrol.