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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New Alberta forward joins Vancouver Giants’ ranks

new left-handed 18-year-old is a familiar face to Giants head coach Michael Dyck

Langley Advance Times Arts Calendar: Feb. 21, 2020 edition

The arts calendar is published Fridays and the community calendar is in the Wednesday print edition

LETTER: Baffled by warning signs in Langley

Reader sees electronic signage as a waste of money and ‘not very useful’

Mugging with airsoft gun results in Langley school lockdown

Police found the weapon and a stolen phone later

Get your say on Langley Township’s budget

Surveys are available online now

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

‘A bag full of garbage every 15 metres’: Surrey industrial area filled with trash

Local workers looking to recruit business, raise funds to help dispose of litter

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Brand new Tesla crashes into Surrey store front, mounts gas line

Driver was heading to the Autoplan store, straight off the lot

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Most Read