Distracted driving still a problem, RCMP say

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RCMP are saying distracted driving is a problem after two check stops in Kamloops last week targeted drivers who can't keep their hands off their electronics.

One check stop was set up in the morning, Jan. 31 on Richmond Avenue and 7th Street and another was stationed on Tranquille Road and MacKenzie Avenue in the afternoon.

An officer in plain clothes watched vehicles and reported violations to officers down the road where drivers were handed tickets.

"In total we're looking at 27 contacts during the three hours," said RCMP Staff Sgt. Grant Learned today at a press conference.

Learned reported five violations for distracted driving, five seatbelt violations, five violations for failing to stop, one violation for driving without insurance, as well as nine incidents of vehicle maintenance required and two additional warnings.

"It's fairly regular. It's fairly consistent," Learned said of the total violations.

As of Jan. 1, 2010 provincial laws prohibit drivers from sending or reading text messages or email, making or receiving calls unless using a hands-free device, holding or operating any electronic device and operating hand-held or hands-free cellphones as a learner or novice driver.

Electronic devices include cell phones, music players, GPS systems, microphones, televisions and any other handheld electronic device. The use of any of these devices includes holding them, operating them, as well as talking on and watching them. Legislation was implemented after statistics attributed a mass amount of B.C. fatalities to distracted driving.

Learned said laws that prohibit drivers from using cell phones while driving will take time to stick and RCMP will continue to randomly hold spot checks with an emphasis on distracted drivers.

"Hopefully over time this will have a change over attitudes," Learned said. "The whole purpose of this is to make sure people are focused on the number one priority, that is driving safely."

— Jessica Wallace

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