While distracted driving awareness month has come to an end, that doesn’t mean local police and ICBC are taking their foot off the gas when it comes to enforcement.
The West Shore RCMP was out on Sept. 28 conducting a distracted blitz not only as a part of distracted driving awareness month, but to crack down on those who can’t leave their phones alone while driving.
“This is part of our provincial campaign,” said Colleen Woodger, ICBC road safety co-ordinator. “ICBC is reminding motorists to take a break from their phone when they’re driving. Driving takes your full attention and when you are using a phone or you are distracted by other means, you are taking your focus away from the road and you are about five times more likely to crash using a hand held electronic device.”
The campaign on the West Shore is in partnership with the Capital Regional District’s integrated road safety unit and the West Shore RCMP’s traffic unit.
“Distracted driving is a real concern,” Woodger added. “It’s killing more people in our province than impaired driving and that is a huge issue yet people do it every day.”
On average, Woodger said eight people are killed each year on Vancouver Island due to distracted driving.
“When you really think about it, this is a preventable crash,” she said. “If people plan ahead and think about what they’re doing, they can actually prevent this from happening.”
Intersections are where most infractions can be seen. Woodger said that is where many people will slow down and check their phone.
“It is illegal and a $368 fine and four points,” she added. “When you start getting into multiple tickets, and many people do, that cost goes up and those points keep going and at that point your drivers license may be reviewed … for a prohibition.”
Const. Alex Berube said while there is no definition of distracted driving under the Motor Vehicle Act, drivers can still be ticketed for driving without due care.
“The Motor Vehicle Act does not define distracted driving itself,” Berube said. “What I mean by that is, there won’t be a ticket with the words ‘distracted driving’ on it. It encompasses activities or gestures that you might do as a driver that will constitute as a distracted driving infraction.”
Berube used the example of a driver eating a sandwich with one hand, while driving with the other.
“You start spilling food on you, you try to clean yourself up while driving, obviously this will affect your driving and your observations on the road,” he said. “You are disturbed by it and this is what causes your distracted driving. It falls under the category of driving without due care under the Motor Vehicle Act.”