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Distracted driving numbers 'staggering'

Central Okanagan drivers are driving to distraction - literally.

As police forces across BC focus on distracted drivers this month, figures from the Kelowna RCMP Detachment are staggering.

Cst. Kris Clark says over the first two weeks of February, 125 tickets have been handed out to drivers using mobile devices while behind the wheel.

Clark says the numbers are just preliminary.

Not all information has been entered into the computer system.

"That's a conservative estimate. It's certainly a real problem here," says Clark.

"If you've been outside in the last five years in Kelowna you know how bad a problem it is here. A lot of people seem to be on their cellphones."

Clark says the figures for the month are just for those using electronic devices and do not include other distractions such as eating, putting on make-up, driving with a child or dog on your lap or shaving.

With the boom in the use of cell phones and other electronic devices the number of fatalities attributed to distracted drivers rose dramatically.

Since the new distracted driving laws came into affect those numbers have fallen.

But Clark says they are still alarming.

"About 30 per cent of fatalities are attributable to distracted driving and 37 per cent of serious injury accidents are attributable to distracted driving," says Clark.

"Distracted driving, whether it's cell phones or not is a huge problem. You are sitting inside a potential weapon of mass destruction. You need your undivided attention dedicated to operating your vehicle. It's as simple as that."

Police in the Central Okanagan will continue to target distracted drivers until the end of the month.

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