Campaign to curb distractions

ICBC, police and the B.C. government are teaming up to launch a month-long distracted driving campaign in March.

Distracted driving is responsible for about one-quarter of all fatal crashes in B.C.

Most drivers understand that using their phone increases their risk of crashing yet many still do it. That’s why ICBC, police and the B.C. government are teaming up to launch a month-long distracted driving campaign in March.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the odds of crashing increase by five times when using your phone, whether dialing, texting, reading or using social media.

“Safety on our highways and in our communities is our top priority,” said Todd Stone, the province’s transportation minister.

“You’re five times more likely to crash if you’re using your phone while driving so leave your phone alone and stay focused on the road.”

Every year, on average, 31 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Southern Interior.

Police are ramping up their enforcement of distracted driving across the province. Cell Watch volunteers will be roadside, reminding drivers to leave their phones alone.

And ICBC road safety co-ordinators will be attending community events with a driving simulator the public can try.

“B.C. drivers know it’s against the law, but far too many still make excuses for their behaviour, and put themselves and others at risk by using their phone while driving,” said Neil Dubord, chairperson of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee.

“That’s why we’re cracking down on those who cannot police themselves. Even when you’re at a red light or in slow moving traffic, you’re still in control of a vehicle, and the law still applies.”

Residents can take a stand against distracted driving and encourage others to do the same by picking up a free decal to display on their vehicle at ICBC driver licensing offices and participating Autoplan broker offices.

“Distracted driving puts everyone on the road at risk – it’s one of the leading causes of crashes with pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s director responsible for road safety.

“Ipsos Reid recently conducted a survey for us and found that 34 per cent of cellphone owners said they use their phone between one and five times out of every 10 driving trips. It’s time we all commit to leaving our phones alone and avoiding other forms of distraction when we’re behind the wheel.”

The campaign features radio advertising and digital advertising which will appear online as well as in restaurants and bars.

To view an infographic on the distracted driving campaign, visit icbc.com.