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

Measles case confirmed within Fraser Health region

One case within Fraser Health is related to the outbreak in three Vancouver schools.

Harrison Festival to share the culture behind the music

Festival director Andy Hillhouse will be talking about nationalism in music, starting March 1

Risk of ‘deadly avalanches’ leads to warning for B.C.’s south coast

Weak layer of snow on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland could trigger an avalanche

Another snowfall warning for Lower Mainland

Another 5-10 cm expected for Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Sunshine Coast

Harrison to participate in inter-municipal business licence program

Construction companies and related businesses will be able to work across the Fraser Valley in 2020

VIDEO: Wheelchairs teach Agassiz students acceptance through sport

Teacher Donna Gallamore brought wheelchairs to the Kent Elementary for learning and fun

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Cryptocurrency exchange CEO who suddenly died leaves Kelowna house in will

Gerald Cotten, holding the keys to money tied up in his virtual currency exchange, died in December.

Regulator’s report, coming today, unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

Most Read