Concerted effort underway across B.C. to reduce dangers of distracted driving
In a significant and concerted enforcement effort on distracted driving, ICBC, the B.C. government and police across the province are joining forces throughout the month of March to raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of distracted driving.
Despite tougher penalties and increased education, distracted driving still contributes to more than one quarter of all car crash fatalities in B.C., with an average of 78 people killed every year.
According to a recent Ipsos Reid survey conducted for ICBC, almost all drivers believe distracted driving has led to an increase in crashes. However, nearly 40 per cent admit to still using their device at least some of the time while driving.
In response, ICBC, police and volunteers have worked together to plan more enforcement deployments across the province with over 70 police enforcement events and over 50 Cell Watch deployments with volunteers roadside this month.
The aim is to give drivers the clear message that if they drive while distracted, they’re even more likely to be caught.
Free ‘not while driving’ decals are available at ICBC driver licensing offices and participating Autoplan broker offices for drivers to support the campaign and encourage other road users to leave their phones alone.
The campaign features radio and digital advertising, as well as social media. You can view more tips and statistics in an infographic at icbc.com.
Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, said he’s confident this campaign will net positive results.
“We anticipate that this will be a significant enforcement effort to crack down on distracted driving since we introduced tough new penalties in 2016,” said Morris. “We believe these new penalties are helping to deliver the message to drivers to put away their electronic devices and focus on the road. Police enforcement efforts like this will help ensure those drivers who persist in breaking the law and use their devices behind the wheel will get caught.”
Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said initiatives like this will help save lives.
“Road safety is our top priority,” said Stone. “Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car fatalities in B.C. It’s crucial that drivers make it their top priority to stop driving distracted.”
Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee, said it took a long time to create public awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving and it’s going to take time to get across the same message about the dangers of distracted driving.
“Taking an integrated and focused approach, police across B.C. will be conducting concentrated enforcement on those who continue to use their phones while driving,” said Dubord. “Putting away our cellphones needs to be as automatic as buckling up. It will require a conscious decision to change distracted driving behavior and it starts with each of us individually. Far too many drivers are putting themselves and others at risk. When you’re driving, focus on the road and leave your phone alone.”
Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s Director responsible for road safety, said distracted driving must be eliminated.
“You’re five times more likely to crash if you’re using your hand-held phone,” said Matthews. “More crashes and distracted driving are putting pressure on insurance rates. That’s why we’re committed to finding ways to reduce the number of crashes on our roads but we need everyone’s help—we all need to commit to driving without distractions.”
Every year, on average, 26 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland.Every year, on average, eight people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes onVancouver Island.
Every year, on average, 32 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Southern Interior.
Every year, on average, 14 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the North Central region.
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