Police take aim at distractions

RCMP target distracted driving

  • Sep. 4, 2011 12:00 p.m.

There’s zero tolerance for distracted driving this Labour Day long weekend.

That includes not only drinking and driving, but using a cell phone or any other distracted driving behaviour.

The statistics speak for themselves. From Feb. 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, police issued 36,921 tickets to drivers for use of an electronic device while driving, and 1,081 tickets to drivers for emailing or texting while driving.

“The fact that there have been so many tickets issued for distracted driving tells us two things – that there are still far too many motorists using handheld electronic devices while driving and that police are enforcing the law,” said Solicitor General Shirley Bond.

“Don’t drive distracted this Labour Day long weekend – ignore your cellphone and respond to that text message when you arrive safely at your destination. Don’t risk your life or put others in jeopardy.”

Each year on average, B.C. records 117 fatalities and more than 1,400 serious injuries as a result of distracted driving. This fatality rate falls right behind impaired driving and speeding, which results in 126 and 152 average annual deaths, respectively.

During the month of September, police across B.C. will use targeted strategies to enforce distracted driving behaviours such as talking or texting on a handheld electronic device. Police will be issuing warnings and tickets with a $167 fine where appropriate.

“With children going back to school, it’s so important to be paying attention to your driving and nothing else. Please don’t use your cellphone or text while driving. You don’t want to be responsible for injuring an innocent child,” said RCMP Superintendent Norm Gaumont.

Drivers who talk or text while driving can be issued a $167 fine and a three-point penalty against their driver’s licence.

In 2010, 50 injured victims of crashes involved drivers who were using communications/video equipment.

Prior to the distraction legislation, an annual average of 856 victims of crashes involved drivers who were distracted – 77 victims of crashes involved drivers who were using communications/video equipment.

Since the distracted legislation, there has been a seven per cent reduction in injuries in crashes involving drivers who were distracted, and a 35 per cent reduction in injuries in crashes involving drivers who were using communications/video equipment.

 

Talking on a cellphone while driving reduces a driver’s field of vision by 50 per cent and quadruples the risk of causing a motor vehicle crash.