February’s Distracted Driving Campaign in the Cariboo resulted in five charges for the use of electronic devices while drivers were behind the wheel, but no phones were confiscated, reports Sgt. Bob Verbree, regional commander of Cariboo Chilcotin Traffic Services.
Phones are confiscated if the police need to verify the owner was on the phone while driving, especially in the case of an accident.
“We don’t normally confiscate cell phones unless they are required for evidence,” he said.
The current fine for mobile phone use while driving is $167.
Verbree said the number of charges wasn’t very high, but the February weather was a big factor.
“Cold wind and snow makes it pretty tough to be standing outside so we’ll have another campaign when the weather is a little bit better.”
The RCMP are always paying attention to drivers using electronic devices, either through road checks or a scope — binoculars.
When asked if the RCMP will pursue a driver seen using a cell phone, Verbree said no because it’s a safety issue.
He would like to see the rules stiffened but said with an election coming the government won’t make any changes at this time.
“Obviously there’s a huge problem, and it’s particularly bad when traffic is congested. Globally who isn’t guilty of it? It’s a tough thing and you have to make a very conscious decision to put the phone down when you’re driving or ensure you have a hand-free device.”
At the end of the day, the statistics bare out that it’s incredibly dangerous.
“Its like closing your eyes and going down the highway for seven seconds. Who would do that? None of us would. It really comes down to the issue of personal safety.”
Aside from electronic device usage charges, police issued 14 charges and three warnings for seat belts. There were also alcohol related charges including four 90-day vehicle suspensions, two three-day suspensions without vehicle impounds, two administrative driving prohibition without impaired charges, and two 24-hour suspensions.