Drivers are five times more likely to be involved in an accident when they are using their cell phones.
Statistics also indicate that one in four fatal crashes in B.C. are caused by distracted drivers, which is now the leading cause of vehicle accidents in the province behind speeding.
Officers from the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment and South Island Traffic Services, in partnership with ICBC, were out in force at a number of roadside locations in Duncan on March 16 to spot perpertators and get the message across to drivers that the consequences are heavy for those who drive while distracted by cell phones and other devices.
Officers were using spotting scopes, which have a range of up to two blocks, to survey traffic for distracted drivers and have them hauled in for ticketing.
The first ticket drivers receive for distracted driving is $368, and if they are reckless enough to receive 10 offences in the same year, they can expect to pay as much as $15,000.
“Most people are catching on and not driving while using cellphones or other electronic devices,” said Const. Amron Russell, while helping to spot distracted drivers on the Trans Canada Highway.
“But it is still going on and that’s why we have to raise awareness of the issue. Drivers should think ahead and, like drinking, arrange to have a designated texter in their car if they must text. They can also have a hands-free phone device installed in their vehicle.”
Caroline Robinson, a road safety coordinator with ICBC, said if drivers realize they are addicted to their phones and can’t stop using them while driving, they should turn off the phone and put it in an unaccessible place, like the back seat or the trunk.
“That will remove the temptation,” she said.
“This enforcement against distracted driving is a month-long campaign across the province.”