Police nabbed 11 drivers in one hour on Terminal Avenue for distracted driving and other infractions Thursday morning. Nanaimo RCMP has stepped up enforcement against cell phone use other activities that take drivers’ attention from the road. Photo submitted

Nanaimo RCMP and ICBC launch distracted driving blitz

Motorists under microscope in month-long campaign against distracted driving

Drivers who pick up calls or text while driving are more likely to get nailed with fines this month.

March is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and police and ICBC will be out on the road checking for drivers whose attention to the road is divided because they’re using cellphones or for other reasons.

Nanaimo RCMP Municipal Traffic Division members launched the month of stepped-up enforcement from the corner of Campbell Street and Terminal Avenue on Thursday morning where they nabbed 11 drivers for various infractions that included using cellphones, not using seatbelts, not having a driver’s licence, no insurance and combinations of the infractions.

“We had [a driver] that was using an electronic device and no insurance,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “The other guy was no seatbelt and no driver’s licence. One guy was driving a company truck and was texting.”

According to ICBC statistics, distracted or inattentive driving – which includes any non-driving activity that reduces a driver’s ability to focus on the road or control a vehicle – is a factor in more than one in four fatal crashes on B.C. roads and accounts for about 77 deaths annually. It is also the leading contributor in injury crashes reported by police.

“We’re out on the road reminding people about the dangers of driving distracted,” said Caroline Robinson, ICBC road safety coordinator. “With more than one in four fatal crashes involving driver distraction, it’s unacceptable and we really want to remind people about that risk, and that’s getting into a crash, hurting someone, possibly causing a fatality.”

Robinson said people need to take a break from their phones when they get into a vehicle. Turn them off and put them away, even if it means putting them in the trunk of the car to remove the temptation to use one while driving.

“There are other ways to be distracted,” she said. “That can be just not paying attention, not being focused on what you’re doing, having a dog on your lap, all sorts of things. Driving really needs our attention. Our roads are so busy. There’s so much going on that we really need to be fully focused.”

The current fine for using an electronic device, which includes talking on a cellphone, texting or e-mailing while driving is $368 plus four demerit points against a driver’s licence.

Driving while control of a vehicle is obstructed, such as letting a dog ride in the driver’s lap, nets a $109 fine and three demerit points. A pets must be secured in a pet carrier in the vehicle.

Driving with out due care results in a $368 fine and six points against a driver’s licence.

To learn more about what devices can be used in vehicles and how they can be used, click here.

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