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Police nab 158 distracted drivers in two-day traffic blitz
The Langley plainclothes police officer hadn't even set up at the Husky gas station at Fraser Highway and Highway 10, and already he had spotted a driver texting on Tuesday afternoon.
Like shooting fish in a barrel, Langley RCMP were pulling over vehicle after vehicle, with drivers being handed down a $167 ticket for texting or talking on their cellphones.
In just four hours (two hours each day), the teams issued 158 violation tickets, made arrests for drug possession, prohibited driving under the Criminal Code and impounded one vehicle.
Over half of the tickets were issued for distracted driving followed by seatbelt and intersection safety.
"Mostly people are texting on their lap or on their console which forces them to look down," said Langley RCMP spokesperson Const. Craig van Herk, who was at one of the four intersections police were handing out tickets on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Those intersections, like 200 Street and the Bypass, were chosen because they are high crash locations in Langley, said Leanne Cassap, ICBC's road safety co-ordinator.
Police are in the midst of a month-long crackdown targeting drivers who are still using cellphones while behind the wheel.
Distracted driving is the third leading cause of fatal car crashes in B.C., behind speeding and impaired driving.
"There is truly nothing worse than having to be that police officer knocking on that door at night. I don't think people realize how dangerous texting can be," said van Herk.
Between 2008 and 2012, 91 people were killed in B.C. due to driver distractions, such as using a hand-held electronic device while driving, said ICBC.
RCMP and municipal police "from Ocean to Mountains." have partnered with ICBC for the distracted drivers campaign.
"It's a co-ordinated effort to change drivers' behaviour," said Cassap. Volunteers from Cell Watch, similar to Speed Watch, will also be out documenting the license plates of distracted drivers.
A 2012 Ipsos Reid survey, conducted on behalf of ICBC, showed that B.C. drivers consider texting while driving to be just as risky as drinking and driving, yet 40 per cent of those who own cell phones admit they’ve used their hand-held phone while driving.