February was not a good month for Lower Mainland drivers who still insist on using handheld devices while driving.
The RCMP's Lower Mainland traffic services division conducted a distracted driving enforcement blitz in February and handed out 4,449 tickets to people for using electronic devices while driving, nearly double from the same time period in 2011 when 2,300 tickets were issued.
"I am extremely disappointed in these results as it shows that drivers aren't taking the dangers of using handheld devices while driving seriously," Supt. Norm Gaumont, officer in charge of Lower Mainland traffic services said in a press release. "It just means that we must continue delivering the message and educating the public on how dangerous distracted driving really is. They are putting the lives of others and their own at risk by not paying attention to the road. Traffic patterns change very quickly especially in an urban centre as there is no time to put down your phone and react to the change."
Distracted driving was a contributing factor to 27 fatalities in 2011, down from the 46 deaths in 2010.
The police also issued other traffic violation tickets during the enforcement blitz, including 3,516 speeding tickets, 2,550 for not wearing or misusing a seatbelt and 2,164 intersection infractions, such as running a red light or turning left on a red light.
Police are reminding drivers that if they need to make a phone call on a cellular phone or check email, they are advised to use a hands-free device or pull their vehicle over.
The fine for using an electronic device without a hands-free device while driving is $167. Drivers caught texting or emailing may also receive three driver penalty points in addition to the fine.
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