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Pay attention to the road: Eating can cost $167 . . . or more

by Suzy Hamilton, The Nelson Daily

Texting while driving is the big no-no, but anything from petting Fido on your lap to eating your lunch while driving can net you a handsome traffic ticket.

As part of an educational campaign to change driving habits, the RCM Police are targeting distracted drivers in the month of February.

Even using your rear view to put on your lipstick can get you pulled over said Sgt. Derrick Donovan of the West Kootenay Traffic Unit. 

“Texting is our main concern,” he said. “We can catch drivers when they’re slowing down. But we need to be in a position to see it.”

Initially it was younger drivers on their cell phones who were ticketed, he said, “but now it’s common with everyone.”

Although there seemed at first to be more women multi-tasking as they drove, there is no longer a certain age or gender.

“It has improved and we’re seeing a gradual decrease,” he said. “The new vehicles that have built in devices are helping.”

Donovan said that the Traffic Team issued 251 tickets for using an electronic device while driving in 2012.

More serious is the erratic driving due to lack of attention. Fifteen drivers in the region received tickets for Driving Without Due Care in 2012, a ticket that can cost twice as much as talking on the cell phone or texting alone.

Donovan said one driver died in 2011 from driving without due care.

The fine for Driving without Due Care and Attention under the Motor Vehicle Act is $368.

If you’re lucky, you may get a warning.

But a word of caution: “Never assume you’ll get just a warning,” said Donovan.

He said there would be unmarked cars and police in key positions on the road watching for drivers who are doing anything but driving.

“We are not advertising which communities we will be in each day.”

Donovan said the Team woudl be looking for drivers not wearing seat belts as well as distracted drivers. “Sometimes they go hand in hand.” 

Provincially, RCMP say that one in three deaths are caused by distracted drivers and distracted drivers cause a little more than one third of the injuries in traffic accidents.