Distracted driving now the 2nd leading cause of car crash deaths in B.C.

VANCOUVER – On average, 88 people are killed in B.C. each year due to driver distractions.

Distracted driving is now the second leading cause of car crash fatalities in the province.

On Thursday, ICBC and police forces announced they are launching a safety campaign about the dangers of distracted driving.

The B.C. Association of Chiefs say you are four times more likely to crash if you are on your phone while driving.

Meanwhile ICBC says that rear-end crashes are on the rise by 14 per cent since 2009 and says the main factor in those crashes is distracted driving.

“Both enforcement and advertising are ramping up to help reinforce a simple yet vital message: if you’re driving, keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road,” said Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice. “There really is no excuse for looking away from the road for a text, call or other distraction. Changing driver attitudes about distracted driving is critical to saving lives and achieving our goal of having North America’s safest roads by 2020.”

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The campaign also includes television and radio advertising, and PSAs featuring Global News personalities.

“We all know distracted driving is dangerous yet many people still aren’t getting the message,” said Superintendent Denis Boucher, “E” Division Traffic Services, RCMP and vice-chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “Every day we see drivers using their phones. The law applies whenever you’re in control of the vehicle – even when you’re at a red light or in bumper-to-bumper traffic, you’re still driving.”

ICBC says studies show distracted drivers find it difficult to maintain lane position, a consistent following distance and speed, and their reaction time is significantly reduced.

“During the month of September police across B.C. were conducting strategic enforcement focusing on unsafe and distracted driving,” said Boucher. “I guarantee you that we will be coming to a city or an intersection near you. You should know that if you are caught using an electronic device, you could face a $167 fine.”

“And texting could get you three penalty points plus the fine.”

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