West Kootenay Traffic and West Kootenay Integrated Road Safety Unit will be joining Traffic Services across the province to conduct a month-long campaign combating distracted driving and ensuring occupant restraint compliance.
This campaign is particularly timely with children heading back to school this week when driver’s need to pay extra attention. Expect to see police paying extra attention in and around schools.
“We are still seeing drivers using their cellphones in the Kootenays. One of the biggest misconceptions about cell phone use in the vehicle is at intersections or while stopped in traffic,” said A/Sgt Chad Badry of the West Kootenay Traffic and Integrated Road Safety Unit in a press release.
“This is particularly dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists,” he added.
According to ICBC statistics, every year, on average, 31 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Southern Interior. That is the most of the four provincial regions, which included Lower Mainland (27 deaths), Vancouver Island (10 deaths) and North Central (15 deaths).
“Police see cell phones in cup holders or center consoles in the vast majority of vehicle stops,” said Badry. “The best place for your cell phone while driving is out of reach. With smart phones specifically designed to alert, notify, and, ultimately distract, it is extremely tempting to check your phone while driving or at an intersection if it is in reach.”
Chief Constable Neil Dubord, chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee, was very clear about the goal of the month-long campaign.
“B.C. drivers know it’s against the law, but far too many still make excuses for their behaviour, and put themselves and others at risk by using their phone while driving,” he said, in the release. “That’s why we’re cracking down on those who cannot police themselves. Even when you’re waiting at an intersection or stuck in traffic, the law is clear – you aren’t permitted to use your phone.”
Badry told the Trail Times in an email reply that seatbelt use also continues to be a concern, albeit not as much as distracted driving.
“We do find that some people are not wearing seatbelts. Generally, compliance is very high though. So far this year, we have issued over 300 tickets for seatbelt related offences.”
Badry said the regional safety unit covers a wide area from Rock Creek to Kootenay Pass and the U.S. Border to Nakusp.