Police launch month-long distracted driving crackdown in B.C.
Published Wednesday, March 2, 2016 8:06PM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 2, 2016 8:08PM PST
Despite it being illegal for years, British Columbians continue to use their mobile phones behind the wheel, and nearly one-quarter of all fatalities on B.C. roads are caused by distracted drivers.
That's one of the reasons that this month, police agencies across the province, in conjunction with ICBC and the provincial government, will be cracking down on the bad behaviour in a month-long campaign.
Vancouver police spent part of Wednesday morning handing out tickets at the intersection of 41st Ave and Knight Street for people talking, texting and even just looking at their cell phones while driving.
"These enforcement projects will continue until we see a large reduction in the number of violation tickets,” said VPD Constable David Toews.
The fine for using a mobile device while driving is $167 and three points on your license but for families who’ve lost loved ones the price is much steeper.
Kari-Lyn Twidale lost her 78-year-old aunt in January 2010; Louise Petrella was hit by a distracted driver in a New Westminster cross-walk on a sunny afternoon and died a few hours later in hospital.
"My mom said, 'Whatever you do, don't go in there. You don't want to see her like that,'” said Twidale, who rushed to the hospital that day. “There's a part of me that wishes I would have gone in and just held her hand and told her I love her. I never had that opportunity."
ICBC says on average 81 people die every year in crashes involving distracted drivers which is 27 per cent of all car crash fatalities in the province.
“Statistics have clearly shown that even having a phone in your hand, regardless of how skilled you are is going to still have a significant reduction in your ability to operate a motor vehicle properly,” said Constable Toews.
One woman who was ticketed Wednesday for using her phone said she was checking for a call or text from a friend.
"When you are alive and healthy, you've got to pay the price for your choices,” she said. “That's all there is to it."
"Maybe if someone in her family gets killed, she might think a little different. And unfortunately that's what it takes,” said Twidale when told about the woman’s comment.