Editorial — Campaign tries to end distractions

Police in B.C. are sending a clear signal to drivers insisting on using hand-held electronic devices while at the wheel.

Since the ban on using hand-held cellphones, text messaging, GPS units, music players and portable gaming devices while driving came into effect in January of last year, police in this province handed out 32,000 tickets to drivers violating the new law, adding up to $5.2 million in fines.

The $167 fine if caught using these devices is clearly not a deterrent, as people are still racing to their destinations with a cellphone or other electronic device in hand.

Unlike changing the station on the stereo or taking a sip of coffee, hand-held devices require drivers to take their eyes off the road and lapse into autopilot, which is at the root of another statistic ­— 32 per cent of fatal accidents in B.C. are caused by distracted driving.

Society’s acceptance of cellphones and text messaging leaves people with the impression it’s rude to ignore calls. It’s not.

To change the way people behave, police in B.C. will crack down on hand-held device use while driving, with RCMP members calling for stiffer penalties and fines.

Throughout this month, police will be nabbing commuters at road checks and using covert operations to catch drivers disobeying the law.

Addicted to your Blackberry? The RCMP has some advice — stick the phone in the trunk.

Out of mind and, more importantly, out of reach.

Autopilot is not the state drivers should be in when navigating B.C.’s roads and highways.

—Nanaimo News Bulletin

(Black Press)

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