West Shore Cpl. Ryan Bacica

Targeting distracted drivers

West Shore drivers’ phone habits spied by volunteers, police

You’re 400 per cent more likely to crash if you’re on the phone while driving, according to ICBC, which is why they’ve partnered with the RCMP, municipal police and community volunteers to combat distracted driving during the month of September.

West Shore RCMP teamed up with volunteers from their Cell Watch program on Wednesday to step up enforcement and raise awareness in drivers.

“It’s important to us, because we know distracted driving is a significant factor in collision,” said Cpl. Kathy Rochlitz. “We want people to recognize the impact it has on their driving.”

Distractions in the form of texting, talking on the phone, even eating, take attention away from the road and can lead to disastrous consequences. Most rear-end crashes resulting in injuries are caused by distracted driving. On the Island, a dozen people are killed each year in crashes related to distracted driving.

Although RCMP and volunteers were visually out in force around the West Shore on Wednesday, it doesn’t mean they’re not still on the lookout the rest of the time. The RCMP reminded drivers they’re not allowed to use any hand-held device, and that ‘hands-free’ means a Bluetooth or wired headset or speakerphone, securely attaching the device to the car. Phones on your lap or loose on the seat are not allowed.

“We’re always looking for more volunteers for the speed watch and cell watch programs,” added Rochlitz. “They’re an extra set of eyes and they help us spread the message of how important it is to stay focused on the road.”

For more information on becoming a volunteer, contact the Community Policing office at 250-391-3327.

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