British Columbia has moved forward with a new advertising campaign and enhanced police enforcement into the dangers posed by distracted driving.
The effort – launched last week by the B.C. government, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) and police – seeks to answer the results of driver distractions, which on average, kills 88 people each year in the province. “That makes distracted driving now the second leading cause of car crash fatalities in B.C., trailing behind speed and narrowly ahead of impaired driving,” notes a statement from ICBC.
“There really is no excuse for looking away from the road for a text, call or other distraction,” Suzanne Anton, B.C. attorney general and justice minister, says in the statement. “Changing driver attitudes about distracted driving is critical to saving lives,” Anton continues.
Police across the province are cracking down on distracted drivers in September. As well, beyond new television and radio advertising and in-theatre ads in the Lower Mainland and PSAs, ICBC has developed a decal for customers to display on their vehicles as a statement to other drivers that they do not use their cellphone while driving and encourage others to do the same.
“Texting or chatting on your cellphone while driving creates a much greater crash risk,” says B.C.’s transportation and infrastructure minister, Todd Stone. “In fact, you’re four times more likely to crash if you’re using your phone while driving.”
ICBC reports that studies show distracted drivers find it difficult to maintain lane position and a consistent following distance and speed, and their reaction time is significantly reduced.
“Most rear-end crashes resulting in injuries are caused by distracted drivers,” says John Dickinson, ICBC’s director of road safety. “Distracted driving is a growing concern as more people become dependent on staying connected and automatically reach for their phone when they hear a text message or phone call, even if they’re driving,” Dickinson adds.
“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,” emphasizes Superintendent Denis Boucher of the RCMP’s E Division Traffic Services, and vice-chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee.