Drivers are reminded to “leave their phone alone” as police in BC conduct a month long campaign to combat distracted driving.
Vernon’s crime prevention coordinator Regan Borisenko says it’s replaced impaired driving as a leading cause of accidents.
“One out of 20 drivers you stopped might be that person (drunk driver), but now, just about 100 percent of these drivers have a cell phone, so the odds are very different now. It’s just matter of educating drivers to change their habits,” Borisenko tells kiss FM.
Borisenko says RCMP volunteers will be at key crash areas, noting drivers who are using phones.
“We conduct distracted driving or cell watch operations. Our volunteers are on the street observing vehicles as they drive by or stop at a light. We note the driver, the device, the license plate, the colour, and the make of the vehicle. All of that gets back to the detachment and a warning letter is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle,” state Borisenko.
Borisenko says 25th Avenue and Highway 97 is one site being monitored this week.
“We’ll be doing that around the City of Vernon in different areas.”
RCMP will also be providing enforcement over the month.
“They’ll be working with us when they can,” says Borisenko.
One of the big misconceptions is that drivers can use their phones while stopped at a traffic light.
“Unless they are pulled over, parked and stopped, they are in care and control of the vehicle, and they are as much guilty of using an electronic device as if their wheels were moving,” comments Borisenko.
Emergency calls are allowed, as the law exempts drivers needing to call 9-1-1 to reach the police, fire department or ambulance service about an emergency, but it does not apply to personal situations— it has to be a real emergency.
“Your family and friends may have something urgent to tell you in a call or text, but your safety is always more important to them.”