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Distracted drivers get tickets

If you’re on your cell phone while you’re driving, the Prince George RCMP are going to get you.

In an effort to reduce the number of driving related deaths and injuries on Prince George and area roads, the Prince George RCMP’s Traffic Services Section has been conducting an enforcement campaign to target distracted drivers in our community.  And it has been very successful with more than 100 tickets handed out in February. The month long campaign was scheduled to start on March 1, however, distracted driving is such a concern in the Prince George area, traffic services officers opted to begin the campaign a full month early.  The enforcement campaign began on February 1 and will conclude on March 31.

During enforcement checks, police have been, and will be, looking for any driving behaviour that takes your attention from the road.  This includes hand held use of cell phones, reading or allowing a pet on your lap.  These actions take attention from the road, decreasing reaction times and increasing harm.  You’re five times more likely to crash if you’re using your hand held phone.

“Many people still choose to use their phone while driving in our community,” said Sgt. Matt LaBelle, of the Prince George RCMP’s Traffic Services Section, in a news release.  “Our hope is that drivers do the right thing and leave the phone alone.”

There are rarely any messages or conversations that are so important that you need to endanger yourself, your loved ones or others on the road, he added.  If drivers need to make a phone call or check messages, they are advised to use a hands-free device or park their vehicle in a safe place off the road, when it is safe to do so.  A safe place does not include the shoulder of a highway.

Police would like to remind drivers that the “use” of a cell phone includes “just holding it”, “just plugging it in” and using it while stopped at a red light.

During February, the following violation tickets were issued under the BC Motor Vehicle Act:

  • 46 tickets for using a cell phone while driving
  • five tickets for driving while the view or vehicle controls are Obstructed (this includes pets on laps and cargo blocking the front window);
  • 56 tickets for failing to wear a seatbelt;
  • 34 tickets for intersection related violations;
  • four tickets for driving without due care and attention.

Four people were also charged with driving while prohibited, which resulted in a court date and the vehicle they were driving being seized for a minimum of seven days.

Each distracted driving Violation results in $543 in total costs for a first-time offender (initial fine of $368, plus four demerit points adding $175, equaling $543).  Total costs go up to $888 for a second offence and increase for each subsequent offence.

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