British Columbia

Police stepping up distracted driving enforcement

Distracted driving is to blame for one in four deaths on B.C. roads. This month police are holding a campaign to enforce the laws.

Distracted driving kills about 88 people a year in B.C.

Const. Brian Montague of the Vancouver Police Department stands in front a crashed car which has 437 cellphones on it - representing the number of deaths on B.C. roads due to distracted driving between 2009 and 2013. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

Police and RCMP throughout B.C. are ramping up a campaign against distracted driving in September.

About 88 people a year die on B.C. roads due to distracted driving. 

"No text and no email is more important than the lives of yourself, the lives of your family and the lives of others on the road," said Vancouver Police Const. Brian Montague in announcing the new campaign.

About one-quarter of all deaths on B.C. roads involve distracted driving — whether that's due to speaking on a cellphone, programing a GPS, or having a bite to eat.

"Distracted driving is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of deaths on our roads," Montague said. "It is against the law to use any electronic device while driving unless it is hands-free."

The penalty for using an electronic device while driving in the province is $167 and three demerit points. Ontario just increased its fine to $490.

In B.C., drivers can also get a $368 ticket for driving without due care and attention, or a $109 ticket for having the ability to drive obstructed, Montague said. 

Fines

Staff Sergeant Dale Somerville, program manager of B.C. RCMP Traffic Services, said he supports increasing fines in B.C., but noted the decision rests with the government.

He said it only takes a second to have an accident.

"Do not sacrifice your safety," Somerville said. "Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road."

Montague agreed.

"437 people died between 2009 and 2013 because of distracted driving," Montague said. "We want to reduce those numbers. We don't want tragedies on our roads."

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