Llong-range scopes the detachment has begun using to catch distracted drivers. (Langley Advance Times file)

Llong-range scopes the detachment has begun using to catch distracted drivers. (Langley Advance Times file)

Police on alert for distracted Okanagan drivers

Month-long campaign focuses on drivers not paying attention behind the wheel

Police in the Okanagan and across the province will be conducting intensified distracted driving enforcement this month.

Every March and September, police across BC participate in the Distracted Driving and Occupant Restraint enforcement campaign. This September is no different.

Fatal and serious injury motor vehicle collisions due to distracted driving are completely preventable and BC RCMP Traffic Services is reminding drivers to keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel.

According to provincial data, distracted driving is responsible for more than 25 per cent of all car crash fatalities and is the second leading cause of fatal collisions in BC. Every year, an average of 76 people die in fatal motor vehicle collisions in BC because the driver was distracted or not paying attention.

“It all starts with you,” said Supt. Holly Turton, Officer in Charge of BC RCMP Traffic Services. “Ask yourself if it is worth your life or someone else’s to answer a call, check your email or send that text while you are driving.

“Please make the right choice when you drive – ignore your phone and drive responsibly, your life may depend on it – and others may depend on you to get to your destination safely.”

Distracted driving is more than just using an electronic device but also includes other distractions such as personal grooming, eating/drinking, reading, pets, other passengers and not knowing your route.

And then there is this type of driver: the one who can’t maintain a steady speed, can’t maintain their lane, stops well short of the stop line (or fails to stop altogether), and the ones who remain stopped even though other traffic has started moving.

“Driving while distracted may cause your trip to end in tragedy for you or someone else,” said Cpl Mike Halskov, BC RCMP Traffic Services’ media relations officer. “Please don’t be that driver.”

Police across the province are working together with its partners in road safety, ICBC and RoadSafetyBC, to step up distracted driving enforcement during the month of September and beyond.

The fines for distracted driving start at $368 plus four penalty points and a $252 driver penalty premium assessed by ICBC for a minimum $620 for a first offence. In addition, your insurance costs may be affected.

And, while seatbelt compliance is generally quite high in BC, on average, 52 people are killed every year in collisions that may have been survivable had restraints been worn. Occupant restraints refers to all occupants of your vehicle, including children who are required to be secured in an approved infant or child seats, appropriate to age and height.

Police recommend that you always buckle up even if you are going short distances – seatbelts and airbags work together to protect you and the occupants of your car. The fine for not wearing a seatbelt is $167.

Police are asking all motorists to always wear seatbelts and leave electronic devices alone when driving for your own safety and that of others.

Follow these links for more information:

*RoadSafetyBC;

*ICBC.

READ MORE: Okanagan RCMP officer hailed as hero for saving home from fire



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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