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Picking up your cell phone while driving OK during an emergency, says Saanich police

Screengrab shows driver trying to call 911 by using Siri on an iPhone.
Screengrab shows driver trying to call 911 by using Siri on an iPhone. Provided by Saanich Police

When you’re behind the wheel of your car and emergency strikes, it seems Siri isn’t the best place to turn.

Saanich Police have released a video clip showing a witness trying to call 911 via the Apple personal management service on his phone.

When the man asked Siri to ‘call 911,’ the phone responded with “I don’t know who your mother is.”

The reason why police are sharing the video is to let the public know that it’s OK to grab your phone and call 911 in an emergency situation.

READ MORE: B.C. moves to designate distracted driving ‘high-risk’ under ICBC

The B.C. government has strict penalties for those that drive distracted. But Saanich Police Sgt. Jereme Leslie said a provision in the Motor Vehicle Act allows drivers to use their mobile phones to call or send a message to a police force, fire department or ambulance service about an emergency.

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“The laws have been around actually since January 1st, 2010, so, they’re fairly old,” Leslie said.

“There’s been obviously a heavy focus on leaving your phone alone. That does cause crashes, but in an emergency, you can call 911.​”

READ MORE: B.C. police launch distracted driving blitz as tough new penalties take effect

Steve Wallace from the Wallace Driving School understands it’s the law, but says it should be used as a last resort.

Instead, drivers should be aware of their surroundings and get to the curb as quickly as possible.

“If you can pull over, then pull over to the side of the road, get off the road and out of danger,” Wallace said.