Surrey Mounties say they issued more than 700 tickets for distracted driving in March, during a month-long targeted campaign.
We have no appetite to defend those who use cell phones while driving, but we do wonder how many of the tickets involved people getting caught red-handed as opposed to just having their dormant devices within reach – which a B.C. Supreme Court Judge recently ruled is not enough to convict.
That said, more than 700 tickets is nevertheless an ugly amount, suggesting many motorists still don’t understand how very dangerous it is to text while driving, or otherwise use their cell phones.
Perhaps many of them simply don’t care.
According to ICBC, more than one in four fatal crashes in the provinces involve distracted driving, killing an average of 77 people every year. Of those, 27 are killed in the Lower Mainland, 10 on Vancouver Island, 28 in the Southern Interior and 13 in B.C.’s North Central region.
If you’re caught using an electronic device while you’re driving, be it for emailing, texting or talking on your cell phone, expect a $368 fine.
There’s also a “driver risk premium” to consider, escalating from $444 on the second conviction to $1,356 on the 10th, and continuing to rise beyond that.
Since 2010 police have issued a whopping 370,000 tickets for distracted driving related to using electronic devices.
Be careful out there, and don’t forget that a big part of being careful is to stay off your cell phone while you’re driving.
Lives could depend on it.