DYING TO TEXT YOUR LOVED ONE?
VERNON - Drivers across the province may not be able to afford taking their loved one out for a Valentines Day dinner tonight after being ticketed for distracted driving.
Plenty of the $167 fines were being handed out this morning downtown Vernon, and it was likely the same story at road checks throughout B.C. Instead of risking your life, and the lives of others, police are urging you not to text your sweetheart from behind the wheel. Stick with hugs and kisses, not xoxo’s at the end of a text.
“Make sure you get home safe,” Vernon Cpl. Mark Taylor says. “If you take your eyes off the road for 4-5 seconds, that’s like driving the length of a hockey rink blind.... Think about putting some loved ones on that piece of hockey rink—you can’t see them if you’re not looking.”
To spot a distracted driving road check, look for a man standing on the side of the road in civilian clothes. Not very helpful, is it? That’s exactly how the RCMP wants it. Dressed in jeans, a beige jacket and a toque, Cpl. Taylor is the spotter in today’s operation. He keeps his radio hidden under his jacket, and when he spots a driver holding a cell phone, he alerts a team of officers down the street. Ten seconds later, the driver is ushered to the side of the road, caught red-handed.
Some culprits sheepishly admit to what they’ve done. Others try to deny it. Some thank the police for being out there and providing needed reminders. But despite enforcement, Taylor says many drivers just aren’t getting the message.
“I wish I could say that it’s getting better. I don’t really see that it is. People are getting more surreptitious with the way they’re using their cell phone, putting it down by their side, their lap, trying to hide it,” Taylor says, adding that where the phone goes, the eyes travel.
“I think there’s been an ample amount of education, it’s in the media all the time, so if someone said they didn’t know (about texting and driving), I wouldn’t believe them.”
In just a couple hours, the unit has ticketed around 25 drivers. A small percentage are for not wearing a seatbelt or for speeding; you’re not immune to those violations just because it’s a distracted driving campaign.
Some were busted for texting, others for scrolling through songs or checking an email. One driver was ticketed for wearing earbuds—you’re only allowed to wear one so you can still hear sirens and horns. Additionally, the earbuds were plugged into a phone lying on the passenger seat instead of secured to the vents or dash. If the phone flew off the seat, the driver would be tempted to grab it, thus constituting distracted driving.
The man, who preferred to be unnamed, thinks it’s a little unfair and extreme to be ticketed for the earbuds, especially since he’s never heard the rule.
“Now I can’t afford a blue tooth,” the man said.
He might not be buying expensive chocolates for his girlfriend either.
While few can feign ignorance to the rule against texting and driving, some aspects of the legislation may not be as well known. To help you out, here are a few tips for avoiding a ticket on Valentines Day.
To contact the reporter for this story email Charlotte Helston at email@example.com, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.