The designation of March as Distracted Driving Awareness Month is among several measures designed to stop the use of hand-held phones. In 2018, Sidney/North Saanich RCMP, North Saanich Fire, BC Ambulance and ICBC partnered with Parkland drama students who played the role of driver, passenger and witness to simulate a car crash designed to prevent students from texting and driving. (Black Press Media File)
More than a third of B.C. drivers admit to using phone while driving, even as most denounce practice
According to ICBC, 95 per cent of drivers believe it is highly risky to text while driving with 78 per cent describing the behaviour as extremely risky.
And yet, more than one-third have also admitted to using their phone at least some of the time while driving.
These figures appear as police across Greater Victoria step up enforcement efforts against distracted driving during March, designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Saanich Police handed out 40 distracted driving tickets within two hours on March 3.
Central Saanich Police Service also linked the release of its last monthly crime report with a reminder about March’s status.
Sgt. Nigel Smallwood stressed that enforcement against distracted driving is always a top priority, with March being an opportunity to raise public awareness.
Distracted driving is factor in about 27 per cent of fatal crashes in British Columbia, claiming an average of 78 lives every year.
The use of personal electronic devices is among the most common causes of distracted driving. Studies show that drivers talking on the cellphone lose sight of about 50 per cent of what is happening around them and drivers using hand-held phones are five times more likely to crash.
British Columbia banned the use of hand-held personal devices while driving in 2010 with the law also applying to drivers stopped at a traffic light or slowed in traffic.
A distracted driving ticket carries a fine of $368 and four penalty points.
Drivers within an N or L are not allowed to use any personal electronic devices, even with a hands-free system.
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