Distracted drivers lead to 700 tickets

 

Langley drivers were a distractable bunch in February – so distracted they didn’t notice the RCMP until they were being pulled over.

In February, during a blitz against distracted driving, local Mounties handed out 702 violations for that single offense, said Cpl. Holly Marks, Langley RCMP spokesperson.

The Langley Traffic Section set up unmarked cars around intersections with high accident rates and nabbed driver after driver during the month.

The numbers are high despite this being the fourth year since the legislation came into effect, Marks noted.

ICBC is also working to reduce distracted driving, which is a factor in 30 per cent of all fatal crashes in the Lower Mainland.

“When you’re distracted behind the wheel your reaction time is significantly reduced,” said Leanne CASSAP, ICBC’s road safety coordinator for Langley. “Distracted driving is a common cause of rear-ended crashes and injuries – there is no safe following distance when your full attention is not on the road.”

The legislation states:

• drivers cannot send or read emails or text messages;

• drivers cannot make or take calls unless using a hands-free device;

• drivers cannot hold or operate any electronic device;

• learners and novice drivers or graduated license holders (GLH), cannot operate handheld or hands-free devices.

“Using” an electronic device includes:

• holding the device;

• operating one of its functions (i.e. pressing buttons);

• talking on the device;

• watching the device.

“Electronic devices” include:

• cell phones, Blackberry, and other handheld devices that have telephone capabilities and/or on which you can send text messages or e-mails;

• I-Pods and other audio players;

• GPS systems;

• Hand microphones;

• Televisions.

There is no exception when stopped at a red light – drivers should not be texting while waiting for the light to change, Marks said.

She also noted that the tickets for distracted driving are often more than the cost of a hands-free bluetooth device.

A ticket is $167, and for most offenses, the driver will also get three points on their licence.

There are two exceptions – if a car is parked off the road, legally and safely, or if calling 911 during an emergency situation, drivers may use their phones.

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