BC RCMP are ramping up efforts to catch distracted drivers/no-seat belts in March. (Black Press file photo)

West Kootenay police step up patrols to catch distracted drivers

Still not getting the message? Maybe a $543 ticket, at minimum, will help stop distracted driving.

West Kootenay drivers still aren’t getting the message about distracted driving.

Need evidence of that?

More than 170 tickets for electronic device use and seat belt violations have been issued in the past six months, says Sgt. Chad Badry from West Kootenay Traffic Services.

“Which is likely just the tip of the iceberg,” he said in a Thursday media release.

“There is no call that is important enough to put your life, your passengers lives, and other road users lives on the line. It just takes a split second of inattention to forever change lives”.

Read more: West Kootenay police take 18 impaired drivers off the road

Badry’s advisory is timely because March is “Distracted Driving/Occupant Restraint Awareness Month” in British Columbia.

Police across the province are stepping up distracted driving enforcement, including West Kootenay patrol units.

“Fatal and serious injury motor vehicle collisions due to distracted driving are completely preventable,” the release reads. “And BC RCMP Traffic Services is reminding drivers to keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel.”

For those who don’t get the message, maybe a heft fine will help them see the light.

Tickets for distracted driving – specifically using an electronic device – start at $368. On top of that, there’s also four penalty points for a minimum of $543 for the first violation, and costs go up even more with each subsequent offense.

If the driver is ticketed for driving without due care, the points are upped to six and insurance costs may be affected.

While there are fewer fatal victims due to not wearing seat belts, the RCMP say it does still occur.

“Police recommend that you always buckle up even if you are going short distances – seat belts and airbags work together to protect you and the occupants of your car.”

The fine for not wearing a seat belt is $167.

Distracted driving is responsible for more than 25 per cent of all car crash fatalities and is the second leading cause of fatal collisions in B.C.

Every year, an average of 78 people die in fatal motor vehicle collisions in British Columbia because the driver was distracted or not paying attention.

Distracted driving is more than just using an electronic device, it also includes other distractions such as personal grooming, eating/drinking, reading, pets, other passengers and not knowing your route.

The RCMP advises, “Doing any of these things while driving may cause your trip to end in tragedy.”



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