Distracted driving is quickly becoming the most dangerous traffic infraction in the region and it’s infuriating first responders who are tasked with handling resulting injuries or death.
“People can’t seem to wait 10 minutes to respond to a text message or answer a phone call. They continue to take lives,” said Staff Sgt. Steve Frayne, unit commander for Central Interior Traffic Services.
Distracted driving is the third leading cause of fatal car crashes in B.C., with an average of 94 deaths per year due to distractions such as using a personal electronic device behind the wheel.
“I heard (an ex-firefighter) specializing in this particular campaign suggest a $500 fine and take the cellphone and take a hammer to it right on the spot. He’s just so frustrated,” said Frayne.
Currently the penalty for cellphone use while driving is a $179 fine.
There will be greater traffic enforcement on highways this weekend, the year’s deadliest holiday, checking for cellphone use as well as speeding, drunk driving and failing to yield to emergency vehicles.
According to ICBC statistics, every Labour Day weekend, there is an average of 80 people injured in 290 crashes in the Southern Interior and across B.C., four people are killed and 560 injured in 1,900 crashes.
However there’s also some good news in traffic enforcement.
Incidents of excessive speeding — defined as going 40 km/h over the speed limit — are going down since “it’s finally starting to sink in” that those drivers will have their vehicles impounded for a week, said Frayne.