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Government, ICBC and police team up to get tough on distracted driving

September 3, 2015

 

While government reviews B.C.'s distracted driving penalties, ICBC, police and the B.C. government are teaming up to launch a month-long distracted driving campaign across the province.

One in four deaths on B.C. roads involves distracted driving. It's time we all commit to leaving our phones alone and avoiding other forms of distraction when we're behind the wheel.

This month, police are ramping up their enforcement of distracted driving across the province. Distracted driving is the second leading cause of car crash fatalities in B.C. and a leading cause of crashes with pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Cell Watch volunteers will be roadside across the province reminding drivers to leave their phones alone. ICBC road safety coordinators will also be visiting community events with a driving simulator the public can try. You can take a stand against distracted driving and encourage others to do the same by picking up a free decal to display on your vehicle at ICBC driver licensing offices and participating Autoplan broker offices.

TELUS is also a supporter of this month's campaign and has been working with ICBC to help educate drivers about the risks of using a cell phone while driving through its smartphone and Internet safety program, TELUS WISE.

The campaign features new radio advertising, digital advertising which will appear online and in restaurants and bars, and television ads. You can view an infographic on this month's distracted driving campaign at icbc.com.

Quotes:

Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice

"The cost of a distracted driving ticket in B.C. is only $167 – the second lowest in Canada – yet the cost of a distracted driving crash can be a person's life," said Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice. "During our month-long consultation, it was clear the public firmly agrees that our fines are too low. We are going to fix this. Over the coming months, we will make our roads safer with tough, fair, and effective sanctions to curtail this alarming but preventable problem."

Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure

"We're asking drivers to leave their phones alone and stay focused on the road," said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. "When you're distracted behind the wheel, your ability to react quickly is significantly compromised. In fact, you're four times more likely to crash if you're using your phone while driving."

Staff Sergeant Dale Somerville, Program Manager, B.C. RCMP Traffic Services

"If you choose to drive distracted and put others' lives at risk, police will catch you," said Staff Sergeant Dale Somerville, B.C. RCMP Traffic Services. "B.C. drivers know it's against the law, but far too many still make excuses for their behaviour, then continue to put themselves and others at risk. That's why we're cracking down on those who cannot police themselves. Even when you're at a red light or in slow moving traffic – you're still in control of a vehicle – and the law still applies."

Lindsay Matthews, ICBC's director responsible for road safety

"Anyone who drives while distracted is putting themselves and others on the road at risk," said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC's director responsible for road safety. "Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of crashes with pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. It's time we all commit to leaving our phones alone and avoiding other forms of distraction when we're behind the wheel."

Juggy Sihota, TELUS vice president of customer experience strategy & operations, TELUS Health

"Distracted driving continues to be a serious issue in Canada and we need to take immediate action,” said Juggy Sihota, TELUS vice president of customer experience strategy and operations. “As a smartphone retailer and provider of the network that powers mobile devices, we have a profound responsibility to tackle distracted driving head-on and encourage Canadians to make smart and safe smartphone decisions. We want to help draw attention to this issue, spark a change in behaviour and encourage others to help put an end to distracted driving.”

Regional statistics*:

  • Every year, on average, 30 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland.
  • Every year, on average, 12 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes on Vancouver Island.
  • Every year, on average, 32 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Southern Interior.
  • Every year, on average, 15 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the North Central region.

*Notes: Police data from 2009 to 2013. Distraction: where one or more of the vehicles involved had contributing factors including use of communication/video equipment, driver inattentive and driver internal/external distraction.

Media contact:
Lindsay Olsen
604-982-4759