Mounties are seeking out drivers who decide to pay a little less attention to the roads this month.
A new distracted driving campaign in the city is a friendly reminder to turn off the phones and be aware of your surroundings.
Instructor with the Prince George Driving School, Raj Brar, says on the first day of classes, he has just one message for his students. “Distracted driving kills more people than drinking and driving does, between hands free and hand-held there’s no difference in crash rates.”
According to ICBC, you’re five times more likely to crash while using your phone. That’s why the Prince George RCMP is pulling distracted drivers aside this month says Cpl. Craig Douglass. “You’re putting other people at risk, you’re not able to respond and react quicker, quick enough, or as quick as regular drivers,” he said. “That is going to cause harm on the roads and that’s what we don’t want.”
In addition, Mounties will be working alongside ICBC’s Operation Hang Up. Starting next week, highly visible ‘Not While Driving’ signs will be placed throughout the community. The signs will act as a reminder to drivers to avoid using handheld devices.
Distracted Driving fines have more than doubled since June 1st with four demerit points attached to each offence. The first time around you’re looking at a 543 dollar fine, 888 dollars for a second infraction, and Douglass says it only gets worse from there. “Please put the phone away, lock it in your truck, leave it in your back seat, shut it off, whatever you have to do, just keep it out of your hands and from being a distraction.”
Brar teaches his students a few of those techniques to avoid the temptation of answering a phone call while behind the wheel. He adds that new phone apps can actually decrease further distractions as well. “There’s a few apps you can download on to your phone where you can turn it on before you leave and it just tells the other person, whoever is texting you or calling you, it tells them that you’re busy right now.”
For now, Mounties and volunteers are keeping an eye out for anyone distracted. It’s the latest effort in make sure you don’t become another statistic.