Langley motorists urged to focus on driving

A broken down taxi in Delta, a broken down transit bus in Victoria, a plain clothed officer on a Langley street corner – a variety of methods are being used to put police out on the street to catch distracted drivers during February.

The police throughout B.C. are doing their twice yearly enforcement campaign. This campaign lasts all of February.

“We’re looking at behaviours behind the wheel,” explained Cpl. Robert McDonald, with the RCMP Traffic Service based in Langley.

The message about paying attention to the road isn’t getting through to many drivers. 

In addition to those using cellphones, there are others eating behind the wheel, doing personal grooming, even having a dog on the lap or untethered in the vehicle, or other non-driving activities.

And the police are watching for those. It could mean a ticket for driving without due care and attention and that would mean a $367 fine and six demerit points.

A key concern remains people using their cellphones while driving, despite provincial laws that require use of a handsfree system.

If the police catch a person using their cell, even just holding it in their hand which is against the law, the fine is $167.

Leanne Cassap, ICBC road safety coordinator, said people will try and use the reasoning that they were only on their phone while stopped at a red light. That, too, is illegal.

Enforcement campaigns happen twice annually to spotlight driving issues and are tailored based on the infractions and problem behaviours police have noticed.

“We do this all year long,” McDonald said about traffic law enforcement. “But for two months of the year, we tell everybody we’re out there.”

He noted that lack of seatbelt use used to be the number one factor in fatal crashes. Society changed and now most people wear seatbelts.

“Alcohol was the number one killer in our province,” McDonald went on to say.

Now the public is solidly opposed to drinking and driving, as evidenced by the demands for harsher and harsher punishments.

Police see a growing threat in this age of multitasking.

“Quickly becoming the number one factor is distraction,” he noted.

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