Police in Saanich nabbed 50 people using cellphones behind the wheel on Friday — just a week after ticketing 44 drivers for doing the same thing.
Saanich Police, BC Highway Patrol and the Capital Regional District Integrated Road Safety Unit combined forces for five hours on March 10, handing out 80 violation tickets, including 50 tickets for people using a phone while driving.
The distracted driving blitz came after police officers in Saanich, along with BCHP and the CRD IRSU, handed out 44 tickets to drivers using a phone on March 3. An additional 22 drivers were also ticketed that day for other offences under the Motor Vehicle Act.
“Distracted driving is something that is entirely preventable,” said Staff Sgt. Adam Tallboy with BCHP Vancouver Island.
“As a driver, it is your responsibility to let those calls go to voicemail and to refrain from texting until you’re pulled over safely at your destination. Safe driving unequivocally starts with you.”
March is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and as a result, police across British Columbia are ramping up enforcement on roads, according to BCHP.
The campaign focuses on road safety more than a decade after legislation banned people from using electronic devices while driving.
Yet, one criminal lawyer calls the legislation outdated. Kyla Lee from Vancouver spoke with CHEK News last week and said while drivers can accept a call from a mounted phone, they’re not allowed to shuffle a song playlist — even if the phone is mounted.
“It makes no sense,” said Lee.
According to ICBC, distracted driving is responsible for 40 per cent of police-reported crashes in B.C., resulting in about 77 deaths yearly, including 10 deaths on Vancouver Island. The insurance corporation says the fine for driving while distracted is $368 and four driver penalty points totalling $214.
Police say drivers can expect more road checks this month and beyond.
“It is quite shocking still because we know that distracted driving is the leading cause of death or injury on our roads, even here in Saanich,” Saanich Police Cst. Markus Anastasiades told CHEK News.
“There really is no excuse for using your phone while driving. That important text can always wait.”
-With files from CHEK’s Kori Sidaway.
Working with @BCHwyPatrol CRD IRSU yesterday in Saanich, our combined enforcement of 5 hours resulted in 80 violations cited, 50 of which were motorists using their phones while driving. Please #LeaveYourPhoneAlone and focus on the road and your surrounds. #DistractedDrivingMonth pic.twitter.com/Uw34MQ2F3k
— Saanich Police (@SaanichPolice) March 11, 2023