DISTRACTED driving remains the third leading cause of fatal car crashes in B.C., trailing behind speed and impaired driving. On average, 91 people are killed each year in B.C. due to driver distractions, such as using a hand-held electronic device behind the wheel.
That’s why on Thursday, the B.C. government, police and ICBC launched a month-long distracted driving campaign and are asking drivers to leave the phone alone and stay focused on the road.
Every year, on average, 31 people die in the Lower Mainland in distracted driving-related crashes.
“A phone call or text can wait for you to reach your destination or find a safe place to pull over,” said Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice. “It is simply not worth the risk of causing a crash and causing serious injury or worse to yourself or someone else on the road. Police across B.C. are doing their part to change this dangerous behaviour by ticketing drivers and enforcing the law. That means if you’re caught talking or texting on your cell while driving, you could face a $167 fine and three penalty points.”
Drivers are four times more likely to crash when talking on a hand-held phone and 23 times more likely to get in a crash if they text behind the wheel.
“Safety is our top priority and we all play a vital role in keeping our highways and roads safe,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Remember in less than ideal weather conditions to use your common sense, slow down and drive to the conditions. Always stay focused on the road and don’t pick up your cell phone or allow other distractions.”
Police are stepping up enforcement across the province and will be out in full-force checking for distracted drivers throughout February.
“Every day police across the province encounter drivers using hand-held devices behind the wheel and based on their excuses, they just don’t get it,” said Chief Officer Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “Most drivers acknowledge that distracted driving is dangerous but they’re also quick to justify their own behaviours. We need drivers to realize there are no excuses for putting others at risk. Pay attention and focus on driving, you will help prevent a tragedy.”
Texting behind the wheel takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 50 km / hour, that is equivalent to driving 64 meters blind – more than the length of a professional-size hockey rink.
“We want drivers to understand that distracted driving is a serious issue and we can all help prevent it,” said Mark Blucher, ICBC’s President and CEO. “Make a commitment to not use your electronic device behind the wheel and encourage others to do the same to make our roads safer for everyone. Fewer crashes and injuries will also lower claims costs and help keep rates as low as possible.”
The distracted driving campaign aims to change driver attitudes and behaviours. For more tips and information on this year’s campaign, visit icbc.com.
(Distraction: where one or more of the vehicles involved had contributing factors including use of communication / video equipment, driver inattentive and driver internal / external distraction.)