A distracted driving crackdown at a Saanich intersection resulted in police issuing nearly 70 tickets in two hours on Wednesday morning.
Starting at 8 a.m. on March 3, Saanich police and members of the CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) scoured the intersection of McKenzie Avenue and Quadra street for drivers using electronic devices as part of a Distracted Driving Month campaign conducted every March with ICBC.
By 10 a.m., the officers had issued 67 tickets – 40 for cellphone-use and the rest for not using seatbelts, intersection violations and other offences, said Colleen Woodger, road safety and community coordinator for ICBC.
The morning was a reflection of similar enforcement happening across B.C., she said. Using an electronic device while driving is the second leading cause of fatal crashes in the province – about 78 deaths annually.
Staff Sgt. Jereme Leslie with the IRSU emphasized that while there are many different things that can draw drivers’ attention away from their task, any time drivers take their eyes off the road the risks increase.
“It’s really important that you’re using all of your faculties while you’re driving and ensuring you’re aware of your surrounding,” he said.
Project this morning at McKenzie Ave at Quadra St. Our @SPD_Traffic worked with officers with CRD ISRSU for a distracted driving campaign. 67 violations issued for offences including cell phones, seatbelts, intersection offences and driver licensing. @RoadSafetyCWoo #EyesfwdBC pic.twitter.com/btMbV3eCll
— Saanich Police (@SaanichPolice) March 3, 2021
Not only can distracted driving lead to serious injuries or fatality, but it can also result in a hefty fine. Drivers are issued a $368 ticket under the Motor Vehicle Act and four demerit points on their licence.
Fully licenced drivers who receive more than two distracted driving tickets in three years face up to $2,500 in fines and premiums. Those who receive two or more tickets in one year may have their record reviewed with the potential for a driving ban lasting up to a year.
— Colleen (@RoadSafetyCWoo) March 3, 2021
Drivers with a learner’s or a novice licence have a zero-tolerance policy and face a six-month driving ban on their first offense. Young drivers are still establishing their driving habits and using electronics behind the wheel can’t be treated lightly, Woodger said.
Leslie noted distracted driving isn’t just an issue among young drivers. “We’re really seeing a large age range – everything from grandparents all the way down to new drivers.”