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'Leave your phone alone': Distracted driving month begins with Coquitlam RCMP message

Each penalty for using an electronic device behind the wheel is a $368 ticket, plus four points on your license.
distracted driving getty images
Distracted driving. | Getty Images

Tomorrow is Sept. 1, marking the start of an annual month-long campaign reiterating a simple message for B.C. drivers.

"Leave your phone alone."

Coquitlam RCMP is teaming up once again with ICBC for distracted driving awareness month as data explains it's one of the leading causes of crashes with pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

According to ICBC's latest report, 14 people died in the Lower Mainland — which includes the Tri-Cities — from fatal crashes in 2019 when "distraction" was determined to be the main contributing factor. The five-year average is 25 deaths.

"Distraction" is defined in the data as the use of communication or video equipment, an inattentive driver and driver internal or external distraction.

Coquitlam RCMP and its Traffic Unit is continuing to discourage the use of electronic devices when behind the wheel.

This includes:

  • Cell phones, Blackberry and other hand-held devices that have telephone capabilities and on which you can send text messages or emails
  • iPods and other music players
  • GPS systems
  • Hand microphones
  • Televisions
  • Other handheld electronic devices

Distracted driving is responsible for more than one-quarter of all car crash fatalities in British Columbia, explains spokesperson Const. Deanna Law.

You’re five times more likely to crash if you’re on your phone and this is why police in Coquitlam and around the province are cracking down on distracted drivers.

ICBC says the penalties for distracted driving are a $368 ticket and four points against your license. Repeat offenders are subject to driving prohibitions as well.

Mounties have listed the following tips to ensure fewer distractions:

  • Plan your route
  • Secure your pets
  • Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel
  • Under the Motor Vehicle Act, drivers cannot:
    • Send or read text messages or e-mails
    • Make or receive calls unless using hands-free device
    • Hold or operate any electronic device
    • Operate hand-held OR hands-free cellphones if a learner or novice driver (in GLP)