Drivers can expect to see campaigns against distracted driving intensify in the Cariboo this month, the RCMP says.
“In February police across B.C. will be targeting drivers who operate vehicles while using a handheld device” said Sgt. Bob Verbree the Regional Commander for Traffic Services in the Cariboo.
“Holding a cell phone in your hand on speaker phone is an offence under the Motor Vehicle Act of Using an Electronic Device While Driving and could result in a fine of $167.”
It also applies to leaving the cell phone on a console and typing while stopped in traffic. “A hands free device is a device that is mounted to your vehicle or secured on your person and is operated by one touch,” Verbree said.
In 2012, distracted driving resulted in 30 per cent of motor vehicle fatalities and 37 per cent of motor vehicle serious injuries.
Since the implementation of legislation banning the use of handheld devices in January of 2010, police in British Columbia issued 105,972 violation tickets for use of handheld electronic devices.
Graduated License Program drivers (L and N drivers) are not permitted any use of electronic devices, including hands free devices.
Due to the increased danger, drivers who are observed to contravene other rules of the road while using a handheld device can be charged with Driving without Due Care and Attention.
Offences that put others at risk, including speeding, unsafe lane changes, following too close and failing to obey traffic control devices will trigger the increased penalty.
The fine for Driving without Due Care and Attention under the Motor Vehicle Act is $368.
“We are gearing up to have several focused campaigns, and some hard enforcement over the month of February here in the Cariboo. Our statistics show we need to do some maintenance for using the seatbelt, and using the cell phone in Williams Lake, Quesnel, and 100 Mile House area,” Vebree said, adding the seatbelt is probably the best safety device in a car and everyone should be wearing them.
Cell phone use — talking and texting is very dangerous and the cause of many crashes in B.C., Vebree said.
“Would you close your eyes for seven seconds when driving down Highway 97 at 100 kilometres an hour? Really the bottom line is personal safety is it not?”