Doesn’t it seem odd that Mounties would ditch their uniforms and reach into the wardrobe bag to go undercover in an attempt to catch distracted drivers?
We’re not talking about a big drug bust, child-porn sting or restricted weapons seizure here. No, we’re talking about an out-and-out enforcement blitz to nail those stubborn motorists who fail to heed repeated warnings from experts about the dangers of talking and texting on cellphones while they’re behind the wheel; a potentially lethal practice that has been illegal in B.C. for the past 18 months or so.
But undercover they’ve gone. There was Kamloops RCMP Const. Ryan Sheremetta last week, dressed in a plaid coat and funky bandanna on a downtown street, whispering into a radio tucked inside this shirt. A photo of Sheremetta leaning on a utility pole was published on Page A5 of The Daily News. It accompanied a story about a fall campaign that aims to get the message across with a sizeable police presence and the prospect of big fines for violators.
While distracted driving doesn’t appear to have captured the public’s attention like drunk-driving crackdowns or even seatbelt campaigns, the statistics related to the risky practice are no less alarming.
According to Staff. Sgt. Grant Learned, more than 30 deaths in the B.C.’s Interior and over 90 provincewide will be attributed to distracted driving this year. In the Lower Mainland last year, Learned said 48 per cent of fatal crashes involved drivers talking or texting behind the wheel.
It’s now the third-leading cause of fatalities on B.C. roads.
You don’t have to be a cop to recognize drivers who put their own self-interest ahead of yours. Look around at any intersection and you’ll see them with a phone to their ear, chatting away and oblivious to the traffic around them. They’re the ones concentrating on anything other than the road as they sit hunched over, texting while they wait for a light or — even worse — as they cruise blindly down the road.
If you’re one of those people (an ICBC survey suggests 40 per cent of drivers admit to using their phone while driving), it’s high time to ask yourself whether any call is worth your life; or even worse, the life of somebody else.
It’s way past time to hang up the phone and pay attention to the road.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by editor Robert Koopmans, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, news editor Mike Cornell or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.