Volunteers and police officers lined 16 Avenue between 148 and 140 streets Tuesday afternoon as part of a distracted-driving blitz.
White Rock RCMP worked with Surrey RCMP to have police cruisers scattered along the roadway, and set up a telescope at the 140 Street and 16 Avenue intersection to eye motorists talking on their phone or texting while driving.
For the stretch of the road, volunteers – wearing bright yellow coats – held signs telling people it’s illegal to use a cellphone while driving.
However, not everyone seemed to get the message. Despite all the warning signs from 148 Street down to 140 Street, police were able to hand out two distracted-driving tickets, three speeding tickets, one seatbelt ticket and two warning tickets for speed and seatbelt.
“The drivers that were stopped all acknowledged they saw the volunteers/police further up along the roadway on 16 Avenue prior to being pulled over. Businesses and residents in the area were also thankful as they view this as a speed zone for vehicles,” ICBC road safety co-ordinator, Karen Klein said.
White Rock RCMP Const. Chantal Sears, dressed in plain clothes, stood near the 140 Street and 16 Avenue intersection and watched for people using their phone at the red-light.
Klein said using electronic devices at a red-light still constitutes as distracted driving, and that’s one of the biggest misconceptions regarding the legislation.
“We know at ICBC that intersections are a very high risk area because our crashes are occurring at intersections. You still need to pay attention and be aware. Particularly if your head is down on your phone, you’re not seeing what’s going on around you,” she said.
Provincial statistics show that distracted-driving deaths have surpassed impaired-driving fatalities.
Klein said approximately 78 deaths per year happen as a result of distracted driving – 26 in the Lower Mainland – and 66 are a result of impaired driving.
“That number is probably even higher. A lot of times police at crashes, they don’t know if it’s attributed to a cell phone. The stats are telling us now it’s ahead of impaired driving,” Klein said.
Speed is still the leading cause of motor-vehicle fatalities, killing approximately 89 in B.C. every year.