The RCMP across the province have launched their annual Distracted Driving Campaign.
The Traffic Services Branch, which has officers based in Langley, is encouraging people to avoid dangerous driving behaviours, including using cellphones while behind the wheel of an automobile.
â€œLast year, 27 per cent of collision fatalities in B.C. were caused by distracted or inattentive drivers, despite over 40,000 violation tickets being issued for use of electronic device or driving without due care and attention,â€ said Cpl. Robert McDonald of E Division Traffic Services. â€œThe public needs to be part of the solution by separating the activities of driving and electronic device use.â€
Each year, on average, 91 people die due to distracted driving-related crashes, 31 in the Lower Mainland, 12 in the North, 34 in the Southeast and 14 on Vancouver Island.
All of these deaths were needless, preventable deaths that could have been prevented by drivers paying their attention solely to the driving task, said McDonald.
He urged drivers to give attention to the most dangerous activity they do all day.
â€œIf you need to make a phone call on a cellular phone, use a hands-free device that can be operated with one touch,â€ said McDonald. â€œIf you need to send or check a text or email, you must pull over, off of the travelled portion of the roadway, and bring your vehicle to a complete stop. There are no messages that are more important than your life.â€
The fine for using an electronic device without hands-free device while driving is $167.00 Moreover, drivers who text or email while driving are subject to three Driver Penalty Points in addition to the fine.
Drivers in the Graduated Licence Program (GLP) are not permitted to use any electronic device, even hands-free devices. GLP drivers receive the $167 fine and three Driver Penalty Points.
Drivers who are observed using an electronic device while committing other moving violations that put themselves and others at risk will face a charge of Driving Without Due Care and Attention, with a fine of $368.
The campaign will last throughout February. On Valentineâ€™s Day, Feb. 14th, the police will be using increased enforcement.