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Distracted drivers on police radar

Every year, on average, 34 people die in the Southern Interior in distracted driving-related crashes according to ICBC.

And because of this and other stats around the province, distracted driving remains the third leading cause of fatal car crashes in B.C., trailing behind speed and impaired driving.

ICBC says that on average, 91 people are killed each year in B.C. due to driver distractions, such as using a hand-held electronic device behind the wheel.

That’s why starting today and for the rest of February, the B.C. government, police and ICBC are taking part in a month-long distracted driving campaign.

They are asking drivers in the Okanagan and all around BC to leave the phone alone and stay focused on the road.

“A phone call or text can wait for you to reach your destination or find a safe place to pull over,” said Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice. “It is simply not worth the risk of causing a crash and causing serious injury or worse to yourself or someone else on the road.”

Police across B.C. are doing their part to change this dangerous behaviour by ticketing drivers and enforcing the law. Which she says will mean if you’re caught talking or texting on your cell while driving, you could face a $167 fine and three penalty points on your license.

“Safety is our top priority and we all play a vital role in keeping our highways and roads safe,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Remember in less than ideal weather conditions to use your common sense, slow down and drive to the conditions. Always stay focused on the road and don’t pick up your cell phone or allow other distractions.”

Police are stepping up enforcement across the province and will be out in full-force checking for distracted drivers throughout February.

"Every day police across the province encounter drivers using hand-held devices behind the wheel and based on their excuses, they just don’t get it,” said Chief Officer Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee.

“Most drivers acknowledge that distracted driving is dangerous but they’re also quick to justify their own behaviours. We need drivers to realize there are no excuses for putting others at risk. Pay attention and focus on driving, you will help prevent a tragedy.”

ICBC wants you to remember that texting behind the wheel takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 50 km/hour, that is equivalent to driving 64 meters blind – more than the length of a professional-size hockey rink.

“We want drivers to understand that distracted driving is a serious issue and we can all help prevent it,” said Mark Blucher, ICBC’s president and CEO. “Make a commitment to not use your electronic device behind the wheel and encourage others to do the same to make our roads safer for everyone. Fewer crashes and injuries will also lower claims costs and help keep rates as low as possible.”

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