Course a wake-up call on distracted driving

“You’ve broken three traffic laws, on top of using a cell phone while driving and that alone is a $167 fine.”

  • Mar. 18, 2016 7:00 p.m.

ROBERT BARRON CITIZEN

I didn’t even see the dog.

The stuffed dog on the side of the imaginary road that was part of the Distracted Driving Course Friday at the Island Savings Centre didn’t even register in my brain as I was trying to dial a number on my cell phone while manoeuvring through the course.

In fact, I “sped” through a playground zone and over a train track on the walk-through course without noticing those either as I changed functions on my phone while bystanders tossed beach balls at me and I was harassed by a lady with a loud horn at the same time.

“You’ve broken three traffic laws, on top of using a cell phone while driving and that alone is a $167 fine,” Carol-Ann Rolls, manager of the local Community Policing volunteers, said with a grin.

After that eye-opening experience, I don’t find it very hard to believe that there are an average of 81 fatalities on B.C.’s roads each year that are a direct result of distracted driving; that’s one in four of all vehicle fatalities.

The North Cowichan/Duncan branch of the RCMP teamed up with ICBC and other agencies Friday in Operation Hang Up, a concerted effort to get the message through to motorists to hang up their phones during the month of March, which is Distracted Driving Month.

Representatives from all the groups were on hand Friday, March 11 at the Island Savings Centre, educating people on the facts and costs of distracted driving.

They were also out in force monitoring traffic on both the north and south lanes of the Trans-Canada Highway that morning to deter the use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving.

Of the more than 3,000 vehicles that were monitored over more than one hour, just two motorists were spotted using their cell phones while driving.

But RCMP Const. Tari Bear, who works in the municipal traffic unit, said the small number who were caught was likely related to the fact that the police and the volunteers had placed numerous signs on the side of the road warning drivers about using their cell phones before they were actually monitored.

“The fact is that we’re still finding a lot of drivers use their phones while on the road.”