Drivers: Put down your phones & pay attention
When it comes to using a cellphone while operating a motor vehicle, Tri-City residents are not getting the message.
That was the statement from Coquitlam RCMP Cpl. Jamie Chung, who said the number of people caught in the Mounties’ distracted driving campaign last month was significantly higher than in a similar blitz a year earlier.
More than 550 provincial charges were issued during February’s stepped up enforcement period, compared to 314 tickets issues during last year’s campaign — an increase of 236 tickets, or 75%.
“People are not getting the message,” Chung said. “There is a low expectation of apprehension. They think they are driving around and they are not going to be caught.”
It could take some time before people become accustomed to the rules surrounding operating a cellphone or other handheld devices while driving.
Chung said that 20 years ago, compliance with seatbelt laws was significantly lower than it is today. Now, he said it is unusual for a person to be found driving without a seatbelt.
The RCMP point to research showing that a driver using a cellphone is three to four times more likely to be involved in a crash — whether they use a hands-free device or not.
The chances that a person texting behind the wheel will be involved in a crash is 20 times higher.
“This is one of the… leading factors in vehicle injuries and fatalities,” he said. “When people are not paying attention, they drive into each other and hurt themselves and others.”
Chung was quick to add that just because the distracted driving campaign has come to an end does not mean that officers will ease up on enforcement.
The Coquitlam RCMP’s traffic and uniformed officers will continue to watch for distracted drivers on Tri-City roads, he said.