Distracted driving is responsible for more than 25 per cent of all car crash fatalities and is the second leading cause of fatal collisions in British Columbia.
Further, the BC RCMP report that an average of 76 people die in fatal motor vehicle collisions in B.C. each year because the driver was distracted or not paying attention.
That’s why police across the province are stepping up their watch on roadways and enforcing September as “Distracted Driving/Occupant Restraint Awareness Month.”
“It all starts with you,” says Chief Superintendent Holly Turton, officer in charge of BC Highway Patrol.
“Ask yourself if it is worth your life or someone else’s to answer a call, check your email or send that text while you are driving. Please make the right choice when you drive – ignore your phone and drive responsibly,” Turton said.
“Your life may depend on it, and others may be depending on you to get to your destination safely.”
Distracted driving is more than just using an electronic device. It includes other distractions such as personal grooming, eating and drinking, reading, unsecured pets, other passengers and not knowing your route.
Doing any of these things while driving may cause a trip to end in tragedy.
Fines for using an electronic device while driving start at $368 and four penalty points for the first offence, and the costs increase with each subsequent offence.
The fine for driving without due care is $368 and six penalty points.
The BC RCMP emphasize, “Fatal and serious injury motor vehicle collisions due to distracted driving are completely preventable and BC Highway Patrol is reminding drivers to keep your eyes on the road and your hands up on the wheel.”
And, while seatbelt compliance is generally quite high in B.C., on average, 51 people are killed every year in collisions that may have been survivable had restraints been worn.
Occupant restraint refers to all occupants in a vehicle, including children who are required to be secured in approved infant or child seats, appropriate to age and height.
Police recommend that commuters always buckle up even when going short distances — seat belts and airbags work together to protect the driver and car occupants.
The fine for not wearing a seatbelt is $167.