By: Luke Jones, Published on March 5, 2017 04:13 PM, Last Update on April 1, 2017 01:14 PM
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is collaborating with the police and government in the province to raise awareness about distracted driving through the month of March.
The three branches will focus on educating drivers on the danger and consequences of distracted driving, which has become the number one killer on Canadian roads.
“Despite tougher penalties and increased education, distracted driving still contributes to more than one quarter of all car crash fatalities in B.C., with an average of 78 people killed every year,” ICBC noted in a press release on Friday.
ICBC cites a recent Ipsos Reid survey conducted on its behalf. The provincial public insurance provider says drivers know that distracted driving has led to more collisions. Furthermore, 40 percent admit that they still use a mobile device when they are driving. Smartphones are believed to be the chief cause of distracted driving, although no hard statistics have been collected.
Through this month, ICBC will team with police and volunteers to create a plan to increase law enforcement across British Columbia. There will be 70 police events and 50 Cell Watch deployments on roads during the month.
Cell Watch is an initiative that aims to educate drivers regarding the risks of distracted driving. “If they drive while distracted, they’re even more likely to be caught,” the release pointed out.
“We anticipate that this will be a significant enforcement effort to crack down on distracted driving since we introduced tough new penalties in 2016,” said Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, in the release. “We believe these new penalties are helping to deliver the message to drivers to put away their electronic devices and focus on the road. Police enforcement efforts like this will help ensure those drivers who persist in breaking the law and use their devices behind the wheel will get caught.”
British Columbia revised its penalties for distracted driving last May. The province increased base fines to $368 (up from $167) and escalating penalty points.