WATCH: The Integrated Road Safety Unit along with officers from various detachments are out to make sure people are getting the message – that distracted driving is not only unsafe, but very expensive. Monica Martinez has the story.
An officer spotted a distracted driver and called it in to his colleagues down the street. The infractions – driving without a seat belt and looking at a cell phone at the stop light.
The driver refuted the claim saying he wasn’t on his phone. Cst. Andy Dunstan handed over a ticket – the distracted driving fine alone is $368, but with the penalty points, first time offenders have to pay a minimum of $543.
“We don’t debate it at the road side. That is what the court is for and I trust my colleague on the evidence he passes to me to write a violation ticket,” said Dunstan.
For the past two days, officers from various departments, as well as the Integrated Road Safety Unit have been out on the streets looking for high-risk behaviour.
“As a unit we issued 40 violation tickets for distracted driving or using cell phones under the new fine amounts and Thursday we are up to a dozen at the moment,” he said.
They are reminding people that distracted driving is not only expensive, but dangerous. The latest numbers, from 2014, show 66 deaths and 630 serious injuries with distracted and inattentive driving as a contributing factor.
“We treat it as seriously as excessive speeding or driving without due care and attention. This is a big deal and we treat it accordingly,” said Victoria Police Sgt. Ron Cronk.
VicPD also had signs out telling people to put away their phones as they entered the Bay Street Bridge. On the other side, officers were waiting to hand out tickets, but it was quiet Thursday morning.
“So far just dealt with a seat belt infraction and a few vehicle defects but it really is slow moving and everybody is complying,” Cronk said.
Higher fines and more penalty points are the new reality for B.C. drivers, in a push to reduce deaths on our roads.