RCMP target drivers in Distracted Driving, Occupant Restraint Campaign

Current stats for 2017 show a whopping 98 cell phone tickets have been handed out by police. — Photo courtesy RCMP
Current stats for 2017 show a whopping 98 cell phone tickets have been handed out by police. — Photo courtesy RCMP

Almost 100 drivers in the West Kootenay still are not getting the message that cellphone distraction has a similar effect on driving as alcohol.

Sergeant Chad Badry of the RCMP West Kootenay Traffic Services said in a media release Monday that during March West Kootenay Traffic and West Kootenay Integrated Road Safety Unit have been working with Traffic Services across the province to conduct a month long campaign combating distracted driving and ensuring occupant restraint compliance.

"Despite a significant increase in the fine for cell phone use last June, police are not seeing a reduction in the incidents of cell phone use," said Badry.

Current stats for 2017 have traffic units in the West Kootenays handing out a whopping 98 cell phone tickets and 37 seatbelt tickets.

Last year, for the same time period, police handed out 91 cell phone tickets and 73 seatbelt tickets.

As of June 1, 2016, each distracted driving offence is calculated using the fine of $368, (up from $167) combined with escalating Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) driver penalty point premiums and possible driving prohibitions.

Badry said police want to remind drivers that using your cell phone can mean simply holding it while you are driving.

"Another common misconception about cell phone use by drivers is at intersections or while stopped in traffic," Badry explained.

"This is particularly dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists and will nab you a minimum $368 ticket."

"The liability could be much greater if you crash your car while using a cell phone," Badry added.

Statistics say drivers increase the likelihood of getting into a crash by five times when using a cell phone while driving and more than 20 times when texting.

The following tips will help driver's avoid using a cell phone while driving:

  1. Turn your phone off or place it out of reach of the driver before driving.
  2. If you need to use your phone, pull well off the road and park before answering it or using it.
  3. Install an App that will help you handle incoming calls while driving such as OneTap.
  4. Make it socially unacceptable to use a cell phone while driving. If you know someone is driving while you are talking or texting, end the communication until the person is no longer driving.

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