Distracted Kamloops drivers busted despite cop in plainclothes holding warning sign | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Distracted Kamloops drivers busted despite cop in plainclothes holding warning sign

An RCMP officer in civilian clothing holds up a warning sign for distracted drivers.

It took less than an hour for seven distracted drivers to get caught using their electronic devices in an RCMP traffic sting last week.

This despite the fact they were given a blatant warning ahead of time. 

A police officer in plainclothes held a "Police Ahead" sign with stop texting and no cellphone graphics on 8 Street near the North Shore Community Police detachment, Nov. 23, while uniformed members watched nearby, according to a media release by RCMP.

The set up was part of a coordinated crackdown on distracted driving.

“Even with penalties and fines totalling more than $500, we’re still only seeing subtle changes in behaviour - not at all what you would expect with everything we know about the dangers of distracted driving,” Cpl. Wayne Chung with the Kamloops RCMP Municipal Traffic Unit said in the release. “If a driver doesn’t notice a police officer in a fluorescent vest, how are they going to notice a child running across the street?”

Using hand-held personal electronic devices while driving has been banned in B.C. since 2010 and applies even when motorists are in slower traffic or stopped at a red light.

The warning sign tactic is just one of the different techniques the traffic unit uses to bust drivers who simply refuse to acknowledge the dangers associated with distracted driving. Other tactics include standing in plain sight, furthering demonstrating the risk involved with such behaviour, RCMP said.

According to quick facts shared by ICBC, more than one quarter of all car crash fatalities in the province are the result of distracted driving, and a driver’s chance of crashing is five times higher when they are on their phone. Distracted drivers react slower and studies show when drivers use a hand-device their visual attention is reduced by about half. Most rear-end crashes resulting in injury involve distracted drivers.

Forty per cent of B.C. drivers admit to using their phone at least some of the time while driving, ICBC said. Drivers with an L or N are not allowed to use any personal electronic devices, even with a hands-free system.

The penalty for one distracted driving ticket is a $368 fine, plus four penalty points, propelling the financial cost to more than $500.

If you find it difficult to leave your phone alone while driving, turn it to silent and keep it out of reach and out of sight, police suggest. Turn on do not disturb while driving features that will send automatic replies to incoming texts and route incoming calls to voicemail.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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