Robert’s column

Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Distracted drivers can cause great harm

Statistics also indicate that one in four fatal crashes in B.C. are caused by distracted drivers

What is it about a ringing or vibrating phone that compels some people to defy the consequences and answer them?

I’m always amazed at how many drivers are busted for distracted driving every time the police set up sting operations to catch them in the Cowichan Valley.

A few weeks ago, local police handed out 16 violation tickets in a very short time to motorists using their electronic devices while driving.

The police had some of their members dressed in civilian clothes and they casually walked through intersections when people were stopped at red lights, spotting those using their phones.

It was liking shooting fish in a barrel.

Each of these drivers received hefty fines of $578 each, plus the loss of four points on their licences, and if the drivers are reckless enough to receive 10 distracted driving offences in the same year, they can expect to pay as much as $15,000 in fines.

That’s why I’m surprised when I see people driving down the road unabashedly having in-depth conversations on their phones for all the world to see.

It’s a fact that 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.

A lot of people I talk to seem to think that it’s only youngsters who feel that insatiable need to be constantly connected to others while driving, no matter the cost, but I typically see an equal number of middle-aged and senior people doing the same thing.

It’s not like they don’t know there are severe consequences for this; media like this paper have been advising people about the penalties for distracted driving for years.

It just seems to me that the repercussions if they are caught, not to mention the injuries and even loss of life that could result from distracted driving if an accident occurs, are quickly forgotten when many people receive what they consider an “important” phone call or text.

It should be said that a call from your wife reminding you to drop by the grocery store on your way home to pick up some milk is just not worth the costs.

Personally, one of the great joys of driving for me is the opportunity is to get away from phones, computers and the many other electronic gadgets available these days that allow people to easily track you down to talk about any number of subjects.

I’ve always taken great pleasure in the ability to escape from the daily grind and just drive down the road, taking in the sights along the way and not having to talk to, text or email anyone.

Like most everyone these days, I have a cell phone, but it’s off when I’m driving, no matter who is trying to get in touch with me.

But, for the multitudes of drivers who just can’t keep their hands off their phones, the police have some advice.

Plan ahead and, like drinking, arrange to have a designated person to handle phone calls in the car, and hands-free phone devices can also be installed in vehicles.

Those with severe addictions to their phones can also just turn them off and put them in their trunks.

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