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Enforcement of distracted driving dialled up on Saanich Peninsula

9 Vancouver Island residents die on average every year in crashes involving distracted driving
Const. Vince Clandening of Central Saanich Police Services uses a scope Friday afternoon to check drivers on Keating Cross Road for distracted driving as part of a campaign that happened across the Saanich Peninsula. (Photo courtesy of ICBC).

Police across the Saanich Peninsula Friday enforced rules against distracted driving caused by electronic devices, among other objects.

Enforcement coupled with education occurred across the three municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula, along with Saanich, as part of a regional campaign March 12 that saw ICBC partner with the Saanich Police Department, Central Saanich Police Service, Sidney/North Saanich RCMP and the Integrated Road Safety Unit. Emcon Services also placed some 60 signs reminding drivers to avoid distractions across the region covered by the campaign.

“Even short glances away from the road increases your risk of crashing,” said Colleen Woodger, ICBC’s road safety and community coordinator for south Vancouver Island.

While police are still compiling statistics around Friday’s event, the message was clear.

“Get everything ready before you hit the road,” Woodger said. “Get your phone sorted, get your objects where they need to be because reaching down or reaching back takes your full attention away and can lead to a crash.”

RELATED: Distracted driving enforcement increased on B.C. highways

According to statistics from ICBC, distracted driving is responsible for more than a quarter of all vehicle crash fatalities in British Columbia (27 per cent) with an average of 76 people dying every year. The corresponding figure for Vancouver Island is nine.

Distracted driving is the leading cause of collisions involving pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, said Woodger, in alerting the public to the growing presence of other road users with the improving weather.

British Columbia banned the use of hand-held personal devices while driving in 2010 with the law also applying while vehicles are stopped at red lights.

While B.C. drivers generally recognize the inherent danger of using electronic devices while driving, they do not necessarily act accordingly.

According to ICBC, 93 per cent of drivers believe it is highly risk to text while driving, with 76 per cent calling it extremely risky. This said, 42 per cent of drivers admit to using their phone at least some of the time while driving.

The penalty for one districted driving ticket is $368 and four penalty points. Drivers with L or N designations are not allowed to use any personal electronic devices, even with a hands-free system.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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