March 19, 2014 - 8:59 AM
VERNON - Distracted drivers may not have noticed the reflective vest clad volunteers scribbling license plate information onto their clipboards last fall, but the warning letter in their mailbox likely caught their attention.
Citizens On Patrol volunteers recorded enough information to send warnings to 54 drivers as part of a brand new initiative called Cell Watch. The distracted driving campaign involved police, ICBC and the Citizens Patrol.
Crime prevention coordinator with the Vernon Citizens Patrol Regan Borisenko says the information was collected at several locations over three months.
“It was, unfortunately, very fruitful,” Borisenko says.
Volunteers witnessed many distracted drivers but were only able to gather adequate information—license plate, description of the driver, vehicle colour—to issue warnings to the 54 people. Binoculars assisted volunteers in obtaining the relevant information, but they only had seconds to get it. At the intersection of 32 Street and and Highway 6, volunteers recorded roughly four distracted drivers a minute.
Volunteers stood out with their reflective vests and Cell Watch sandwich boards, but many distracted drivers didn’t even see them.
“I was out once and found the same person twice within five minutes,” Borisenko says. “When you’re on a phone, you have a tendency not to see what's going on around you.”
According to the RCMP, distracted driving accounts for a quarter of all car crash fatalities in B.C. claiming the lives of an average 34 people in the Southern Interior each year. As part of the Cell Watch process, individuals who receive three warnings earn themselves the $167 fine for distracted driving and three penalty points on their license. Cell Watch will be hitting the roads again this April.
“It’s a sad state of affairs that the number of distracted drivers is so high,” Borisenko says. “We’re doing our best to educate people and change the stats.”
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-309-5230.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014