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Penticton  

Weekend blitz for cops

South Okanagan traffic enforcers want to be clear: If you break the rules, you're going to pay for it. 

A distracted driving task force made a huge push this weekend in the South Okanagan, with RCMP Traffic Services officers cracking down on drivers using their cellphones or neglecting their seatbelts behind the wheel.

Both overt and covert techniques were employed in marked and unmarked cars throughout the region. Penticton alone had 200 incidents, including 94 seatbelt violations and 54 cellphone violations.

The covert operations included a police surveillance shuttle disguised as a civilian bus. Officers on board scouted passing cars for infractions, and passed the information to nearby squad cars.

"Looking at and using an electronic device while driving is like driving with your eyes closed. We recognize that risk and we're upping our enforcement game to counter," said Cpl. Ryan McLeod, South Okanagan Traffic Services. "Our officers are encouraged to be creative. We are devising new ways to intercept distracted drivers and encourage a change in their behaviour."

Getting caught using an electronic device while behind the wheel means a fine of $368, with potential additional insurance penalties from ICBC. Not wearing a seatbelt costs $167.

In light of the findings from this weekend, the Traffic Services team put together a "tips for drivers" list:

  • No call, text or email is so important it's worth risking your life or the lives of others. Let calls go to voicemail and ignore your text messages while driving. 
  • Turn [your phone] off and put it out of sight or turn on airplane mode to avoid the temptation to check your phone.
  • Assign a designated texter. Ask a passenger to make or receive calls for you.
  • Use the 'Do Not Disturb While Driving' feature.

As part of this weekend's crackdown, the RCMP also impounded two vehicles for excessive speeding.

Additionally, a driver stopped Friday for not wearing a seatbelt was determined to be under the influence of alcohol and received 90 days probation and a 30-day vehicle impoundment, and another no-seatbelt stop on Saturday led to the capture of a man wanted on an outstanding warrant. 

 

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