16 tickets for distracted driving handed out to Saanich drivers in March

16 tickets for distracted driving handed out to Saanich drivers in March

In the first five days of the month, Saanich Police say officers have handed out 16 distracted driving tickets.

Insp. Damian Kowalewich told CHEK News this is a concerningly high number of violations.

“To put in perspective, there were 353 violation tickets for distracted driving issued in 2023. So the numbers are certainly up so far this year in 2024,” Kowalewich said.

March is Distracted Driving Awareness Month in B.C., where police agencies and ICBC work to raise awareness about the negative effects distracted driving has.

ICBC says distracted and inattentive driving is one of the leading contributors to fatal car crashes, with 5,788 police-reported injuries and 78 deaths being attributed to distracted driving each year.

It is a factor reported in 38 per cent of all police-reported crashes in B.C., and 61 per cent of distracted drivers in the crashes are male.

On Vancouver Island, nine people are killed and 1,196 injured in distracted driving crashes each year.

“If everyone avoided distracted driving, we could reduce fatalities by 27 per cent, that would be like 79 less people dying on our roads if people were more focused,” Colleen Woodger, ICBC road safety and community coordinator said.

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The province has a complete ban on holding, operating, communicating with or watching the screen of any hand-held electronic device like cell phones while driving. The only exceptions are if the driver is safely parked and off the roadway or if you are making an emergency call to 911.

If you are caught distracted driving, the fine is $368 and comes with four points on your licence.

Four points for use of an electronic device while driving comes with a $600 drivers risk premium, according to ICBC.

Kowalewich said these fines can be easily avoided by putting your cell phone down or putting it out of reach.

“Put it in the backseat, put it in the trunk, turn it right off,” he explained. “If you need that physical separation then do that and know yourself. Put yourself in a position to be successful with not using your phone while you’re driving.”

READ MORE FROM 2023: Nearly 100 motorists caught using cellphones in Saanich distracted driving blitz

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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