Distracted drivers to get Kelowna cops’ undivided attention

Central Okanagan Traffic Services and Kelowna Integrated Road Safety Unit will ramp up enforcement at a notoriously dangerous intersection.

Awful driving has been a constant since the days of the Model T, but the proliferation of mobile phone technology has spawned a new breed of motorist.

“We see it all the time, a vehicle swerves into another lane… almost crashes,” said Const. Kris Clark.

“They you get by them and they’re on their cell phone or their head is (bowed so they can check messages.)”

The polite term to these threats to overall road safety is “distracted drivers” although they’ve likely heard worse, and Kelowna is rife with them.

So much so, that ICBC, the Central Okanagan Traffic Services  and Kelowna Integrated Road Safety Unit  will be responding with ramped up enforcement at a notoriously dangerous intersection, in the near future—no word on which one, on what date, just yet.

“Police will be looking for any driver behaviour that takes their attention from the road. That includes: texting while driving, talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving, putting on makeup while driving, and reading a newspaper or book while driving,” said Clark.

“Roadways are very dynamic environments with situations and circumstances that can change quickly. By taking your eyes off of the road for even a moment you increase the chance of a collision.”

Clark pointed out that while there will be a brief uptick in enforcement, it’s not like the police aren’t already on the lookout for distracted drivers.

The problem is, they just can’t catch them all.

“We can only do so much,” he said. “The community has to take action themselves and realize this is dangerous behaviour.”

It’s dangerous, and prohibited. In February of 2010, legislation was passed ensuring penalties would follow being caught driving and talking without a handsfree device.

The fine  is $167 and drivers caught texting or emailing may receive 3 Driver Penalty Points in addition to the fine.

If it’s proved that a fatality has been caused because of distracted driving, Clark said that can inform a judge in  their sentencing decision.