Coquitlam: September marks a month long campaign by law enforcement agencies in B.C. and ICBC to remind everyone that using an electronic device while driving is not only dangerous but still against the law. Throughout the month, Coquitlam RCMP officers and volunteers will be out in the community with ticket books in hand on the look-out for distracted drivers in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra.

Incredibly, there are still people who refuse to put the phone down while driving or feel it’s safe text while stopped at a red light, said Sgt. Terry MacDonald of the Coquitlam RCMP Traffic Services section. The consequences are far too great to justify that quick phone call or last second text. If it’s that important, pull over when it’s safe to do so and keep the conversation brief.

Distracted driving is now the second leading cause of car crash fatalities in British Columbia, moving ahead of impaired driving-related fatal crashes. On average, 81 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in B.C. each year.

More than 800 crashes occur every day in B.C., many of these caused by risky driving behaviours including distracted driving, said Kathleen Nadalin, local ICBC road safety coordinator.You’re five times more likely to crash if you’re using your phone so when you’re behind the wheel, stay focussed on driving.

Tips for drivers

  • It can wait. No call or text is so important it’s worth risking your life. Let calls go to voicemail and ignore your text messages while driving.
  • Assign a designated texter. Ask your passengers to make or receive calls and texts for you.
  • If you can’t leave your phone alone while driving, turn it off and put it in the trunk of your car to avoid the temptation.

Tips for Pedestrians and Cyclists

  • When you approach an intersection, please pay attention to what’s happening around you. Remove your headphones and put away your cellphone so you can see, hear and respond to keep yourself safe.
  • Cyclists: Riding in traffic is demanding so avoid distractions and never assume drivers see you. Don’t use headphones or electronic devices so you can see, hear and respond to the unexpected and keep yourself safe.