Distracted driving month

B.C. drivers will have to keep their heads up, "literally" in some parts of the province as distracted driving month kicks off in earnest this week.

RCMP will be out across the province looking to catch drivers who still have not got the message that distracted driving can lead to crashes.

RCMP tell Castanet, drivers are still not getting the message that they’re five times more likely to crash if they’re using a handheld phone.

Coquitlam RCMP will be using special techniques for the launch of the local Distracted Driving Month campaign. Corporal Michael McLaughlin explains, "we'll be using a cherry picker to get above traffic. Typically what people do is they wait until they're stopped at  a traffic light for instance and they think it's safe to pull out their device, but of course, they're still driving and it's not."

RCMP say they will be watching, in particular for people who do that. McLaughlin says the information from the officers at higher elevation will then be fed to officers in surrounding vehicles nearby.

"When you are distracted you completely lose situational awareness", says Corporal Quentin Frewing with Coquitlam RCMP’s Traffic Section. "I once saw a driver looking at his phone while stopped at a light. As I walked to the front of his vehicle wearing my neon police jacket, the light behind me turned green. The driver looked right through me and started driving forward. I had to slam my hand on the hood of the car for him to realize there was a police officer standing in front of him".

"Safer roads start with every driver making a conscious decision to drive smart and distraction-free", says Kathleen Nadalin, local ICBC road safety coordinator. "Distracted driving now causes more fatalities on BC roads than impaired driving. Simply letting calls go to voicemail, or programming your GPS before you start your journey, will make roads safer."

For more information on distracted driving, and how we all have a responsibility to share the road safely, check the road safety section of the ICBC website.

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