Friday, Sept. 19, 2014

On the Road

Staying Focused 

RCMP, ICBC target distracted drivers

Staff/Voice photo


A Chilliwack RCMP officer dressed as a pedestrian was looking for distracted drivers last week on Eagle Landing Parkway.


istracted driving is a lot like drunk driving, you arrive at the same place with the same results – carnage and death. Driving new cars is like being in the cockpit of a jet. There’s so many things going on, you’ve almost got to have the same skill set as a jet pilot. So it's important to focus on the road.


According to ICBC statistics, 88 people are killed each year in B.C. due to driver distractions. That makes distracted driving the second leading cause of car crash fatalities in B.C., trailing behind speed and narrowly ahead of impaired driving.


The government of BC, ICBC and the RCMP partnered in a month-long initiative to try and reduce the accidents caused by distracted driving. Police departments around BC have different ways to find drivers texting, gabbing on cel phones, using cameras or using handheld devices.


"Texting or chatting on your cell phone while driving creates a much greater crash risk," said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. "In fact, you're four times more likely to crash if you're using your phone while driving. We are asking drivers to leave their phones alone and stay focused on the road. A text or a call is not worth risking your life over."


Chilliwack RCMP had officers dressed as pedestrians at Eagle Landing Parkway last week looking for distracted drivers. Police have not released information regarding how many tickets were issued there.


"We all know distracted driving is dangerous yet many people still aren't getting the message," said Superintendent Denis Boucher, "E" Division Traffic Services, RCMP and Vice-Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. "Every day we see drivers using their phones. The law applies whenever you're in control of the vehicle – even when you're at a red light or in bumper-to-bumper traffic, you're still driving."


Surrey RCMP targeted strategic areas around South Surrey to drive home the fact that distracted driving behaviours are dangerous and greatly increase your risk of being involved in a crash.


“Too many innocent people are being injured or killed in collisions because drivers make the conscious decision to drive while being distracted,” says Surrey RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet. “We are not asking drivers to do anything extra, we are simply asking them to not pick up a ringing phone or read a text and focus on the road they share with others instead.”


Community policing volunteers in North Vancouver conducted a distracted driving awareness and enforcement campaign. They jot down the plate numbers of offending drivers.


They checked several hundred vehicles and issued twenty-one violation tickets for distracted driving. The fine for using an electronic device while driving without hands-free is $167.00 plus three Driver Penalty Points.


Drivers who are observed using an electronic device while committing other moving violations that put themselves and others at risk can face a charge of Driving Without Due Care and Attention, and a fine of $368.00.


"When you’re distracted, you react slower. You’re four times more likely to crash if you’re on the phone while driving", said Harvey Kooner, local ICBC road safety coordinator. "Focus on the road, not on your phone, and watch for pedestrians and cyclists."


In Port Coquitlam, “Cell Watch” volunteers were at Lougheed Hwy and Shaughnessy Street taking down license plate numbers of distracted drivers. These drivers will be getting a warning letter through the mail.




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