March makes an impact on drivers

The month of March signifies the distracted driving campaign initiated by the province of B.C.

The month of March signifies the distracted driving campaign initialized by the province of B.C., which started in Richmond last Friday in partnership with ICBC, demonstrating their efforts to have all drivers on the road undistracted and complying with road safety regulations to ensure preventative measures.

“Of course the ‘leave your phone alone campaign’ has been pushed from ICBC and all of our partners,” Cpl. Ronda Rempel, media relations officer for B.C. RCMP Traffic Services told The Hope Standard. “And I think what’s important to let the public know is that sadly, 88 people die per year in B.C. because of distracted driving.”

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of collisions and fatalities on the roadway.

“Out of the 88 lives lives, thirty, are from the Lower Mainland — so we’re obviously trying to get the message out to the public that distracted driving is our second in leading causes for fatal collisions in the province, just behind speed and narrowly ahead of impaired driving,” she said.

In an effort to thwart the ongoing technological battle with smart phones, certain individuals are using alternative precautionary methods.

“I think everyone has good intentions and we have some people putting phones in their trunks, or turning them off — but we know that we’re all pretty much addicted to our smart phones and that’s causing a huge problem on our roadways,” said Rempel.

The officials are asking people to think outside of the box and suggesting the populace start searching for distracted driving apps.

“We are actually saying — use technology to save you from technology,” she said. “There’s quite a few apps out there right now, some of them are free, which we think is absolutely an initiative on behalf of the companies — we are encouraging people to seek them out.”

The innovative new apps have auto replies, so if you have your phone on, it can determine that you are driving and send an auto reply if someone calls or texts, while you are in transit.

“If you’re going to have your phone with you and you can’t part with it, you need to think of other ways to keep yourself and other people on the road ways safe — so we are encouraging people to do that.”

Despite significant fines for infractions, motorists have not been deterred.

“It’ a $160 fine for using an electronic device and there’s three points associated with that — and we all know that points affect our insurance — because people aren’t getting the message we do think that over time, we’re going to have to look at other avenues to get people to change their behaviours,” Rempel said.

Distracted driving is narrowly ahead of impaired driving when it comes to fatalities, and Rempel cautions the public to be wary of connecting with others while in transit and to keep all hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and to just drive.

“Don’t text your loved one to death and what I mean by that is if you know your loved one is on the road, don’t send a text message and don’t call — driving is a complex enough task in itself with pedestrians, cyclists, children and pets in the car. There’s lots of other distractions that we have to try and manage fi rst.”

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