In one day, VicPD issued 50 tickets to distracted drivers with a $543 price tag — or the option to take a three-hour class and not pay up.
It’s the second time the VicPD and Restorative Justice Victoria have teamed up to educate first offenders about the dangers of looking at your phone while behind the wheel. Usually, a fine and penalty points on the driver’s licence is the consequence of being pulled over for distracted driving, but the voluntary course aims to have a longer impact.
“The goal is to change people’s behaviour,” said Gillian Lindquist, the executive director of Restorative Justice Victoria. “See it more as not just getting a fine, but like this is dangerous behaviour that could really change someone’s life, could end somebody’s life.”
We gave out 50 tickets yesterday for distracted driving. This was part of a pilot project with @RestorativeYYJ
— VicPD Traffic (@vicpdtraffic) October 11, 2018
At last count, 20 of the 50 drivers issued tickets on Oct. 10 have signed up for the program, but there’s still time for the rest to register. The first time the pilot project took place 32 of 34 drivers took the course.
The two course leaders include a woman whose daughter was hit by a distracted driver, and now lives with chronic pain and PTSD. The other is a retired fire department captain, who shares his experience responding to crash scenes.
Lindquist said drivers will learn dangerous driving statistics such as how far a vehicle can travel while they’re distracted, exercises to demonstrate how multi-tasking behind the wheel doesn’t work and how peripheral vision is impacted. Then they accept the responsibility for their actions and sign a pledge not to drive with a hand-held electronic device again.
“It really does impact people at a deeper level,” she said. “The goal isn’t to bring them in there and make them feel terrible and shame them about what they’ve done, but to create an environment where they can learn something and leave feeling motivated to change their behaviour. Hopefully, they’ll encourage the people around them, friends and family to do the same.”