September 05, 2013 - 2:17 PM
VERNON - Distracted driving is the number one cause of accidents today, but a month-long campaign aims to reduce those numbers.
Cell Watch is an educational program beginning today in Vernon designed to remind drivers it's illegal and dangerous to use hand-held cell phones and other portable electronic devices when driving. It's happening in communities across B.C. in partnership with police, citizen patrol volunteers and ICBC. The citizen patrol volunteers conducting roadside surveys have security clearance, uniforms and training from RCMP.
Along with the surveys, sandwich boards with the message "Leave the Phone Alone" have been placed at intersections along major corridors.
The statistics related to distracted driving paint a grim picture. From 2008-12, it was the cause of about a quarter of all car crash fatalities in B.C. and the third leading cause of crash fatalities, with 91 deaths each year. Distracted driving narrowly trails behind other high profile causes of fatal collisions, with 115 occurring in speed related crashes and 95 as a result of drunk driving.
In the Southern Interior, 34 people are killed in distracted driving related crashes.
The bottom line though, is distracted driving in the form of using a mobile device while at the helm of a vehicle, is prohibited according to B.C.'s mobile device law.
Section 214.2 of the Motor Vehicle Act states a driver cannot use a hand-held electronic communication device (including hand-held cellphones, PDAs and other electronic hand-held devices such as music players, GPS Navigation Systems, etc.). Also, a driver cannot send or receive text messages or electronic email on any type of electronic device.
Drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) are restricted from using hands-free cellphones while driving. Drivers with a regular licence are permitted to use hands-free cellphones and devices that can be operated with one touch or voice command.
Any violations of the law will cost drivers a $167 fine. Drivers in the GLP also get three driver penalty points added to their license. Any drivers caught texting or emailing are fined $167 and receive three driver penalty points.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013