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Behind-the-Wheel

Get your eyes on the road

#EyesFwdBC! It's distracted driving campaign time. ICBC tells us that distracted driving is responsible for 26% of collision fatalities in B.C. each year. On average, 76 people die each year in a crash where distracted driving is a contributing factor.

Every year, on average, according to police reported data from 2014 to 2018:

  • 26 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland.
  • 9 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes on Vancouver Island.
  • 29 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Southern Interior.
  • 12 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the North Central region.

Let's not forget that distracted driving is not something that is always connected with the use of an electronic device by the driver either. There are many other sources of distraction that take a driver's attention away from the task of driving. Anything that takes your hands off the wheel or your mind off of the task can be distracting as well.

The B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police (BCACP) have a stake in this as well. Chief Constable Neil Dubord is the chair of the BCACP Traffic Safety Committee and he contributes the following advice:

"Distracted driving continues to be a serious issue in our province – it's the number one cause of crashes. Police officers see distracted drivers on the roads in every community. We are stepping up efforts making sure people leave their phones alone while driving."

To round out the message, remember that your first ticket for improper use of an electronic device while driving will cost you a $368 fine and $252 for the four penalty points. Do it again within one year (about 1,335 of us do) and you are looking at a bill for just over $2,500.

I often wonder whether these campaigns get through to the people that they are aimed at. According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation they do make a difference:

  • reduced the number of road incidents by approximately 9%
  • increased seatbelt use by 25%
  • reduced speeding by 16%
  • increased yielding behaviour by 37%
  • increased risk comprehension by about 16%

However, they must be coupled with legislation, enforcement and education, which our government and ICBC tries to do.

There is also some indication that local, personally directed campaigns that show by far the biggest effect on road accidents. So, thank you for reading this. Hopefully you take something away from doing so that results in the reduction of your crash risk.

This story also appears on DriveSmartBC.

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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