Police launch distracted driving crackdown

Enforcement blitz comes ahead of expected provincial government move to toughen penalties for drivers who use their phones

A crashed SUV plastered with cellphones served as a symbol for Thursday's launch of a new distracted driving campaign.

A month-long enforcement blitz is underway across B.C. to reduce deaths and crashes from distracted driving.

The new campaign launched Thursday by police forces and ICBC comes ahead of an expected move by the provincial government this fall to stiffen the penalties for repeat offenders.

“B.C. drivers know it’s against the law, but far too many still make excuses for their behaviour, then continue to put themselves and others at risk,” said Staff Sgt. Dale Somerville of B.C. RCMP Traffic Services. “That’s why we’re cracking down on those who cannot police themselves.”

RELATED:Careless driving, smoking penalties on way

According to ICBC, an estimated one in four deaths on B.C. roads involves distracted driving, which is the leading cause of crashes with pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Nearly 90 people a year die in distracted driving-related crashes each year in B.C., about a third of them in the Lower Mainland.

Cell Watch volunteers will be roadside across the province reminding drivers to leave their phones alone.

Somerville noted cellphone use is against the law even when a vehicle is stopped at a red light or in slow moving traffic.

ICBC road safety coordinators will also visit community events with a driving simulator the public can try.

Focusing on a phone comes at the cost of the road.   Image: ICBC

Supporters can also take a stand against distracted driving and encourage others to do the same by picking up a free decal to display on vehicles from ICBC licensing and Autoplan offices.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said the province’s recent review of the distracted driving penalties made it clear the public agrees the fines are too low.

“The cost of a distracted driving ticket in B.C. is only $167 – the second lowest in Canada – yet the cost of a distracted driving crash can be a person’s life,” she said.

“We are going to fix this. Over the coming months, we will make our roads safer with tough, fair, and effective sanctions to curtail this alarming but preventable problem.”

Motorists are considered four times as likely to crash if they use their phone while driving.

 

Just Posted

Duo robs Harrison Hot Springs gas station

Husky manager planning to tighten security

Snow prayers answered as Manning Park ski hill opens Friday

Ski hill will be open seven days a week starting Dec. 14, and cross-country trails as well

Fleeing driver picks fight with Chilliwack police dog, loses

Good dog ‘Griff’ also locates large quantity of what police believe to be crystal meth in Abbotsford

UPDATE: Heavy rainfall, strong winds in forecast for Lower Mainland

Heavy rains, snow expected till Friday morning

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

37% of Metro Vancouver sees real estate industry as ‘extremely corrupt’

Report comes as the B.C. government continues to probe alleged links of money laundering in casinos to real estate

‘I practically begged’: Kootenay woman with breast cancer denied referral to Calgary

Breast cancer patient left to fight disease alone after being denied referral to Calgary

21 detained before Paris protests as police deploy in force

There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags

VIDEO: Giants winning streak halts against Everett Friday at home in Langley

Following their first loss since November, G-Men hope to regroup and defeat Victoria on Saturday.

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Canfor Corp. extending temporary curtailment of sawmills in B.C.; cutting hours

Vancouver-based company says the decision is due to declining lumber prices, high log costs and log supply constraints

Most Read