RCMP dish out 4,400 distracted driving tickets in Feb.
Lower Mainland Mounties have released the results of February's distracted driving enforcement blitz, tallying more than 4,400 tickets for using electronic devices alone.
The number is nearly double the 2,300 tickets issued in the same month last year, and Supt. Norm Gaumont said he's "extremely disappointed" so many drivers aren't getting the message about the dangers of handheld devices.
"They are putting the lives of others and their own lives at risk by not paying attention to the road. Traffic patterns change very quickly, especially in an urban centre as there is no time to put down your phone and react to the change," Gaumont said in a statement.
The fine for using electronic devices while driving in $167, though drivers – provided they're not in the Graduated Licensing Program – can avoid the fine by using hands-free devices.
Police urge motorists to simply pull over if they need to talk, text or email in the car.
During February's crackdown, Mounties also dished out 3,516 tickets for speeding, 2,550 for not wearing or misusing a seatbelt, and 2,164 for intersection infractions such as running a red light.
For the entire month, plainclothes officers stood at street corners to alert police nearby about problem drivers.
B.C.'s ban on using handhelds while driving came into effect two years ago. Though many drivers continue to use the devices, the number of traffic fatalities chalked up to distracted driving plunged from 46 in 2010 to 27 in 2011, a 40 per cent drop.
Police warn that investigators will pull phone records in the event of serious or fatal accidents to see if drivers were talking or texting.