Spring Distracted Driving Campaign
#EyesFwdBC! It's distracted driving campaign time. ICBC tells us that distracted driving is responsible for about 28% of collision fatalities in B.C. each year. On average, 82 people die each year in a crash where distracted driving is a contributing factor.
Every year, on average, according to police reported data from 2017 to 2021:
- 28 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland.
- 12 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes on Vancouver Island.
- 30 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Southern Interior.
- 12 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the North Central region.
Let's not forget that distracted driving is not something that is always connected with the use of an electronic device by the driver either. There are many other sources of distraction that take a driver's attention away from the task of driving. Anything that takes your hands off the wheel or your mind off of the task can be distracting as well.
The B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police (BCACP) have a stake in this as well. The Traffic Safety Committee contributes the following advice:
"Distracted driving continues to be a serious issue in our province – it's the number one cause of crashes. Police officers see distracted drivers on the roads in every community. We are stepping up efforts making sure people leave their phones alone while driving."
To round out the message, remember that your first ticket for improper use of an electronic device while driving will cost you a $368 fine and $252 for the four penalty points. Do it again within one year (about 1,335 of us do) and you are looking at a bill for just over $2,500.
Police issued 27,113 tickets for the use of electronic devices while driving in 2021.
I often wonder whether these campaigns get through to the people that they are aimed at. According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation they do make a difference:
- reduced the number of road incidents by approximately 9%
- increased seatbelt use by 25%
- reduced speeding by 16%
- increased yielding behaviour by 37%
- increased risk comprehension by about 16%
However, they must be coupled with legislation, enforcement and education, which our government and ICBC tries to do.
There is also some indication that local, personally directed campaigns that show by far the biggest effect on road accidents. So, thank you for reading this. Hopefully you take something away from doing so that results in the reduction of your crash risk.
Gosh I wish there was some way to contact the Local PD when you see somebody distracted driving. So many times when I'm walking around town peering into peoples cars, the phone is either in hand or they are somehow fiddling with it at a light.
Is it wrong to film them and somehow want to submit it to the Local PD? I wonder how many people would keep doing this, if they were flat out caught by civilians?? Just my 2 cents worth.
I See Such Poor Behaviour When I Drive
I would like to think that I do not drive distractedly but I am always interested and open to learn more tips on diminishing risks.
My phone is out sight and reach, when I drive. Not that I am tempted. It is inconceivable to me to mix the two.. I was exceedingly disappointed that a judge dismissed charges against a person who had a phone on their lap, while it was charging..
What possible justification is there for choosing to charge a phone in that way? To have anything on one's lap while driving? Let alone a device that for most people screams for attention. any object falling to the floor, around the feet, becomes an enormous hazard.
I am dismayed each and every time I see poor behaviour in driving, that unfortunately probably reflects similar poor behaviour in life in general..impatience, rudeness, recklessness..
No doubt, many of these drivers have children who are just soaking up what they see and are already “ learning” to drive, unfortunately..
My view is that one of the best gifts to give a young person is: qualified driving instruction by professionals. Not everyone can afford it, of course, but some things are worth saving for.. it is as essential as the rest of their education and possibly life saving..
Let’s look at this analytically
Unfortunately the police having been allowed to dictate their own parameters when it comes to collision investigation and are “all talk and no walk”.
Yes, your article stated the problem correctly, however without (I’m sure they aren’t available) any statistical breaking down the types of “distracted driving”.
Your paragraph : “Let's not forget that distracted driving is not something that is always connected with the use of an electronic device by the driver either. There are many other sources of distraction that take a driver's attention away from the task of driving. Anything that takes your hands off the wheel or your mind off of the task can be distracting as well.” is right on the money. Unfortunately this clarity on what constitutes “distracted driving” is a rarity.
Following that paragraph, you quote the BC Association of Chiefs of Police, chair, Chief Constable Neil Dubord : "Distracted driving continues to be a serious issue in our province – it's the number one cause of crashes. Police officers see distracted drivers on the roads in every community. We are stepping up efforts making sure people leave their phones alone while driving."
There, once again, distracted driving equals “phones while driving”
For starters, what is with the police and the various traffic collision sensitive agencies, including ICBC giving mixed and unclear messages.
We hear, “Distracted driving causes xxx number of collision and xxx number of deaths….” I don’t dispute any of that. Actually I think the percentage is likely much much higher, BUT in the next sentence the first thing that is discussed is the fine for uses of an electronic device. That is only one of many distracted driving acts.
No, I’m not suggesting it safe, right, or a good idea to use electronic devices, but lets understand that distracted driving is not just the used of an electronic device.
Excepting for road conditions, I would suggest if a driver is driving carefully, travelling a safe speed for conditions, paying attention to traffic and the roadway, it’s pretty easy to avoid causing a collision. Add the bad habits or eating, drinking (non alcoholic), reading, smoking, looking at a document to determine an address, yelling at a child in the back seat, OR, using an electronic device and we have a heightened likelihood of that driving causing a collision.
Where do these stats come from ? From the police investigating of collision ? Yes the few very serious ones, not the thousands and thousands of others though.
From accident reports ? Nope, don’t need to submit them anymore.
They mostly come from ICBC, part of each driver’s description of their claim. RoadSafety BC indicates less than 12% of ICBC reported collisions have a corresponding police report, in the last 10 years.
So what does the public hear “Distracted driving is killing 76 people on average each year everyone should be more careful”. What does the public perceive “Using a cell phone, either talking or texting with it, must stop and we will reduce the carnage.”
We certainly can’t get any usable information from the media, they have turned into stenographers, who attend press conferences and just regurgitate (and very often incorrectly) information, with little to no follow-up or understanding of the issue.
How many times in the last year have I heard or read in the media of someone being charged with “Obstruct Justice”, after an altercation with the police overnight.
“Obstruct Justice” is an attempt to pervert of defeat the course of justice in a judicial proceeding.
What happened was a person interfered or didn’t cooperate with a police officer and was charged with “Obstruct a Peace Officer” (police officer), which is the obstruction of a peace officer in the execution of his duty. How could an overnight incident result in someone attempting to pervert or defeat the course of justice in a judicial proceeding ?????
So let’s not expect the media are going to provide any help in determining what’s really going on with respect to vehicle collisions, their enforcement, their statistics and their reduction.
So we’re told that on average 76 people die each year in BC because of Distracted Driving.
So what percentage of “Distracted Driving” collisions are caused by the illegal use of an electronic device ???
I would venture a guess that with the exception of impairment, road conditions and excessive speed for conditions (dove tails into road conditions) almost all collision are cause in some degree by a driver not paying attention, or the catch phrase “distracted driving”.
So, how can police justify directing so many resources towards reducing Use of Electronic Devices if many of the distracted driving collisions are not caused by the use of an electronic device and police are, enforcing “Use of Electronic Device” laws ?
Investigating and thus issuing tickets for non-electronic device distracted driving, (called Driving Without Due Care and Attention) would involve investigating. How is that done ? By attending traffic collisions and spending time investigating them.
How can the public be expected to change distracted driving behavior if they think it is mainly caused by those using an electronic device ? The woman driving along Highway 33 in 2018, eating noodle soup with chopsticks comes to mind,,,, “yes, but I wasn’t using any electronic device !”
As for the police, they have the misconception that investigating collisions “is just doing ICBC’s work for them”. Not even close, in fact I’m sure a huge percentage of the time, the police officer’s idea of who was legally liable for a collision is contrary to ICBC’s. (Civil vs criminal)
Am I the only one who thinks ticketing a driver for disobeying a traffic law, because it might cause a collision, and then refusing to investigate collisions and thus issue tickets to drivers who has caused collisions is ludicrous ?
We have legislation that doubles fines for speeding in construction zones, what about investigating traffic collisions and implementing legislation that triples fines for offenses when they involve collisions.
The problem has to be assessed and understood and the solution has to be directed at solving the problem.
Like the security at a construction site, they know a worker is stealing from the work site. Every evening they search him and the wheelbarrow full of rocks he leaves with, can’t find a thing. They didn’t assess and understand the problem. He was stealing wheelbarrows.
Not Enough Education
I agree that cell phone use while driving is still a serious problem.
However I take issue with your suggestion the government / ICBC have tried to educate. What education there is still is directed at driving. Significantly more than half of the tickets under 204.2 at red lights are issued where the vehicle is stopped and the driver picks up the phone to do something (read a text, change a playlist, etc).
They are not driving but operating the vehicle.
None of the education from the government / ICBC that I am aware of makes that distinction. It only refers to “driving.” Almost all of the drivers in this situation are not aware that operating is covered by the ban on cell phone use.
Those drivers suffer the same consequence (except perhaps a lesser fine to $200 – $250) as the drivers you describe in the statistics – 4 points and another $252 further down the road. That is more than a conviction for excessive speeding.
I have suggested to the powers that be that ICBC stick a pamphlet in the envelope sent to vehicle owners of insurance renewal notices pointing out the extent of the ban, including it apples at red lights and the extended meaning of use which most think is only talking or texting, which is rarely the case in the “red light” tickets.
And further the technology in vehicles has changed significantly since 2009 when this legislation was enacted and not amended since.
Most drivers do not know that if they have their phones synced to their in car system built into the dash and they do not have the phone also secured to the vehicle or on themselves, that they are in breach of the section. So if they are talking or using an app this way and have the phone in a cup holder or on the passenger seat, they are using the device by operating one of the phone’s functions or communicating orally with another person or device.
It is badly out of date and needs updating.
The Motor Vehicle Act has a lot of regulations unfortunately no one seems interested in enforcing them. To me this is the flavour of the day.
I do not text while driving but will admit to answering my phone. I have driven on industrial roads all my life and we are required to call our mileage. To me talking on a cell phone is no different than holding a mic and talking on a two-way radio.
As we get more new cars on the road the argument on distracted driving is reduced.
I also do not believe in one law for me and another law for someone else. If anything driving a emergency vehicle should have stricter regulations than that for a regular motorist. We have different classes of licences and the requirements increases as you progress up the ladder. With this one exception.
Then there is all the gadgets on new cars. Many of the newer vehicles have a touch screen to adjust such minor items as temperature, heater/defrost/AC, radio all requiring one to take you eyes off the road. Shouldn't adjusting your radio or HVAC be considered distracted driving? Or even the fact the monitor is visible to the driver? Do we need a law that the monitors in vehicles be turned off while moving?
There is an old saying the person can't walk and chew gum at the same time and this holds true here. Yet everyone is tarred with the same brush with the exception of people driving emergency vehicles. I find it very comforting that cop flying down the road or the driver of the fire truck could be texting while they are coming towards me.
Finally there is the accident reconstructionist. How convenient it is to put a check mark on the flavour of the day. And before you jump in to defend them, just consider James Fisher of the VPD. Remember he is the one that got caught how many others got away?