According to police statistics, from 2007 – 2011, distracted driving was responsible for about 25 per cent of all car crash fatalities in B.C.
“Driver distraction is the third leading cause of car crash fatalities in B.C.” John Dickinson, ICBC’s director of road safety, said.
“These are preventable tragedies, which is why we’re asking drivers to avoid distractions behind the wheel so they get to where they’re going safely,”
The statistics also show 87 per cent of B.C. drivers own a cell phone of which 40 per cent admitted using their cell phone while driving.
To stem the tide police across the province launched the Distracted Driving Awareness and Enforcement Campaign last week.
The month-long campaign targets drivers operating vehicles while using a handheld device.
The fine is $167.
Graduated License Program drivers (L and N drivers) aren’t permitted to use any electronic devices, including hands free devices.
“A hands-free device is not holding a cell phone in your hand on speaker phone,” Sgt. Scott with the West Pacific Region Traffic Services explained.
“A hands free device is a device that is mounted to your vehicle or secured on your person and is operated by one touch.
“At the end of the day we want everyone to arrive home safely, if your call is that important, please pull over.”
Due to the increased danger, drivers observed to contravene other rules of the road while using a handheld device may be charged with Driving without Due Care and Attention.
Offences that put others at risk, include speeding, unsafe lane changes, following too close and fail to obey traffic control devices.
The fine for Driving without Due Care and Attention under the Motor Vehicle Act is $368.
Police are not required to prove that a call was in progress.
Preliminary statistics for 2012 indicate distracted driving was a contributing factor in 30 per cent of motor vehicle fatalities involved distracted driving
and 37 per cent of motor vehicle serious injuries involved distracted driving
Since the implementation of legislation banning the use of handheld devices in January of 2010, police in British Columbia issued 63,348 violation tickets for use of handheld electronic devices.
Driving is a complex task and you are four times more likely to crash when talking on a handheld mobile phone while driving, and 23 times more likely to get in a crash if you text while driving.
Educational tips (ICBC)
– Pull over to make or receive a call or send a text and make sure you’re safely off to the side of the road so you’re not a danger to other vehicles.
– Take a message, let your mobile phone pick up your calls and text messages.
It’s easier and much safer to retrieve your messages at a later time.
– Ask your passengers to make or receive calls for you.
– Turn your mobile phone off or place it in the trunk of your car and/or in the back seat so you won’t be tempted to use it.