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Police targeting distracted drivers

Every year, on average, 31 people die in the Lower Mainland in distracted driving-related crashes.  - File photo
Every year, on average, 31 people die in the Lower Mainland in distracted driving-related crashes.
— image credit: File photo

Police are in the midst of a month-long crackdown targeting drivers who are still using cell phones while behind the wheel.

Distracted driving is the third leading cause of fatal car crashes in B.C., behind speeding 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 while driving.

“With vacations over and kids back in school, our roads are busy again, which is why we’re asking drivers to leave the phone alone and stay focused on the road,” said Todd Stone, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “You’re four times more likely to crash when talking on a hand-held phone behind the wheel, and 23 times more likely to get in a crash if you text while driving.”

Police have stepped up enforcement across the province and will be checking for distracted drivers throughout September in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

“We’ve seen first-hand the devastating consequences of being distracted behind the wheel, which is why police across the province will target those who choose to put other people’s lives at risk,” said Chief Const. Jamie Graham, chair of the traffic safety committee of the British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police. “This is a serious issue – how would you feel if you lost a loved one because a driver was on the phone or texting? Think about that the next time you’re tempted to reach for the phone behind the wheel.”

A 2012 Ipsos Reid survey, conducted on behalf of ICBC, showed that B.C. drivers consider texting while driving to be just as risky as drinking and driving, yet 40 per cent of those who own cell phones admit they’ve used their hand-held phone while driving.

“Driving is a complex task that requires your full attention,” said Mark Blucher, ICBC’s interim president and CEO. “When you’re distracted behind the wheel your reaction time is significantly reduced. Distracted driving is a common cause of rear-end crashes and injuries – there is no safe following distance when your mind is not on the road.”

The distracted driving campaign aims to change driver attitudes and behaviours. Drivers can create a culture where people encourage each other to avoid distractions behind the wheel so that our roads are safer for everyone.

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