B.C. Mounties have teamed up with a group of pint-sized artists to send an illustrated message to drivers caught using their phones behind the wheel.
Members of the North Vancouver RCMP launched a campaign Monday, previously conducted in other jurisdictions, meant to remind drivers that distracted driving can have dire consequences for others as well as themselves.
Distracted driving results in more deaths in B.C. than impaired driving, and while the offence includes any action that takes the driver's attention away from the road, use of cellphones is one of the most common.
Data from ICBC suggests drivers are five times more likely to crash if using their phone. Still, two in five drivers admit to using their phone at least some of the time they're behind the wheel.
The penalty for using a hand-held electronic device while driving is a $368 fine and four penalty points on first offence, but it seems that the fine isn't enough to encourage drivers to resist the urge to check their texts.
So Mounties partnered with local elementary schools and daycamps to warn drivers of the risks in a different way: Handout cards featuring children's drawings. The captions on the drawings read, "Think of me. Leave your phone alone."
Dozens of the hand-drawn cards were created by North Vancouver school children and are now being handed out to drivers in school zones.
"This is an incredibly powerful reminder to drivers that their actions behind the wheel can cause a ripple effect that extends beyond their own personal safety," said ICBC's Lindsay Matthews.
While drawn by children, the images offer dire warnings of the risks. One shows a car on the side of the road, flames pouring from the window. Another shows a fender bender, with the text "Someone was on there phone and crashed!"
A third shows two panels. In one image, showing what can happen if a driver is using their phone, there's an explosion on the road with the word "Boom." On the "no phone" side, two cars are seen passing each other on the road uneventfully.
While the campaign is aimed at adult drivers, police hope its effect is two-fold.
The young artists are the next generation of drivers, and Mounties hope they absorb the lesson years before they get behind the wheel.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim