Abbotsford: March is Distracted Driving month and the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) has intensified distracted driving enforcement over the past few weeks. Distracted pedestrians and drivers put themselves – and other citizens – at risk, significantly increasing the chances of a motor vehicle accident. The APD has taken an innovative approach to this problem with the creation of a pilot project, the Distracted Driving Unit (DDU), soon to be patrolling our community streets. This unit and its unique methods will be enforcing legislation and reminding our citizens to keep their eyes up and aware of their surroundings.
Distracted driving isn’t just limited to the use of cellular phones. Other distractions are just as dangerous:
Manual distractions cause you to take one or both hands off the wheel. Examples include eating, drinking, smoking, applying makeup, searching through your wallet or turning knobs on your vehicle.
Visual distractions cause your eyes to wander off the road. Examples include taking in the view, looking at a map or GPS device, or reading a book (yes, we’ve seen it happen!).
Cognitive distractions cause your focus to drift away from your driving. Common driving distractions include talking to another passenger, daydreaming, or thinking about something that is upsetting.
So – what can be done to eliminate or reduce distractions?
When you step into the crosswalk, roadway or parking lot, put your phone down and pay attention; be aware of the vehicles around you when walking where vehicles drive and while crossing the road.
- Look both ways when crossing the road, making eye contact with drivers before you enter intersections.
- Watch for drivers turning corners.
- Obey signals at crosswalks.
- Turn off your phone when you are driving; if you need to make a call, find a safe place and pull over. If turning off your phone is not possible, use your device in hands-free mode, operating it with one-touch commands or voice commands. (Reminder – make sure your cell phone is securely attached to your vehicle).
Make adjustments to your mirrors, seats, GPS and steering wheel before you start driving.
- Stay calm. Stress and anxiety can be a significant distraction.
- Use your passengers – if possible, have them change radio stations, music selections, answer calls, text or adjust temperatures.
Do you need more reasons to keep your #eyesup? The fines for distracted driving range from $368 to $543 for a first offence, and the costs go up with each subsequent offence. Points are applied against your license, and may affect your insurance costs.