Despite tougher penalties, more police enforcement and continued public education, on average, 78 people still don’t make it home to their families every year because of distracted and inattentive drivers, says ICBC.
In contrast, an average of 66 people are killed each year due to impaired driving. In fact, distraction and driver inattention is one of the top contributing factors in motor vehicle fatalities in BC and contributes to more than one quarter of all car crash deaths.
In a recent Ipsos Reid study conducted for ICBC, nearly all respondents agreed that it is extremely risky to use their hand-held phone while driving; however, 38 per cent of drivers said that they use their phone during at least 10 per cent of the trips they take.
This month, drivers will be hearing one united message – take a break from your phone when you’re behind the wheel.
Police across B.C. are ramping up distracted driving enforcement in September, and community volunteers are conducting Cell Watch deployments to remind drivers to take a break from their phone when driving.
New this year, ICBC is working with four car share companies in B.C. – Car2Go, Evo, Modo and Zipcar – which will help spread the message to car share customers, ensuring more B.C. drivers are aware of the risks of driving while distracted.
The campaign will feature new TV and radio advertising, airing throughout the province from September 8 to October 11, as well as digital and social media advertising.
Free ‘not while driving’ decals are available at ICBC driver licensing offices and participating Autoplan broker offices for drivers to show their support and encourage other road users to follow their example.
Attorney General David Eby said on Wednesday: “Distracted driving is entirely preventable, as are the crashes and casualties caused by the behaviour. To address this issue, our government is moving forward with a pilot program of new technologies to eliminate distracted driving among high-risk groups, and to increase public awareness of the risks of this dangerous driving behaviour. Drivers need to be part of the solution too: put down your phones before driving; keep them out of reach; and keep yourself, your passengers and other road users safe.”
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth added: “Heading into the school year, I’d like to remind everyone to be safe behind the wheel and keep your eyes on the road at all times. Drivers are facing higher fines, more penalty points and possible driving prohibitions for repeat offences with legislation that came into effect on June 1, 2016. Distracted driving is a high-risk driving offence, which makes it equivalent to excessive speeding, and driving without due care and attention. If your vehicle isn’t equipped for hands-free use of your handheld device, turn off the ringer before you turn on the ignition.”
“The law is clear: you must leave your phone alone when operating a vehicle,” noted Superintendent Davis Wendell, Officer in Command of E Division Traffic Services and Vice-Chair, B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “Police will be out in full force this month reminding you to put your phone away when you’re behind the wheel. No text or call is worth the risk.”
Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s Director Responsible for Road Safety: “Distracted driving results in more fatalities than impaired driving, and is also one of the leading contributors of crashes with pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. It’s time we all commit to taking a break from our phone and stop driving distracted.”
You can view more tips and statistics in an infographic at icbc.com.