Coquitlam RCMP watching for drivers talking, texting this month
Coquitlam RCMP were out in force on Valentine's Day to remind drivers to tell — not text — their special someone how much they care.
Officers held a distracted driving blitz Thursday morning at Lougheed Highway and Westwood Street and nabbed many drivers talking or texting on their phones.
"Despite [the blitz] being highly publicized, officers still caught several drivers allegedly using their electronic device in the morning enforcement blitz," said Cpl. Jamie Chung, adding the traffic services section will be at high-crash locations throughout February's distracted driving campaign to drive the message home.
At only halfway through the campaign, Coquitlam traffic officers had already issued about 300 tickets to drivers caught using electronic devices while driving.
"Motorists who are not getting the message can expect 'tough love' from the Mounties," Chung said.
With an estimated one third of traffic deaths and serious injuries in B.C. involving distracted driving, police throughout the province are cracking down on cellphone use this month.
Statistics from 2012 show 30% of deaths and 37% of injuries are caused by talking on a mobile phone.
A similar campaign last February resulted in more than 4,000 drivers being ticketed.
The distracted driving fine is $167 but police can more than double it if they find a person is driving erratically because of cellphone use or other distracting behaviour like eating or having a dog in your lap.
ICBC's website answers many of the common misconceptions about the distracted driving law, including:
• Calling/texting at a red light or in heavy traffic is not allowed.
• Using a phone is dangerous — it's the third leading cause of car crash fatalities (94 deaths from 2007 to 2011)
• Even "good" drivers can't multitask while on the road — everyone needs to concentrate on the road to be ready for the unexpected
• Holding the phone for any purpose — whether checking voice mail, selecting music or programming a GPS — is not allowed
• Emergency calls to 911 are allowed but not "emergency" calls to family or friends.
• Using the speakerphone is permitted but only with a Bluetooth or wired headset with the phone securely attached to you (belt clip) or the car — it can't be in your lap or loose on the seat. Holding your phone in one hand and steering with the other is illegal.
For more tips on safe cell phone use, visit www.icbc.com.