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Leaving Your Phone Alone

Leaving Your Phone Alone

September 19, 2014

We all know that texting and driving is dangerous, yet some continue to risk their lives and those of other drivers and passengers with this and other distractions behind the wheel.

In fact, statistics show distracted driving in the second-leading cause of car crash fatalities in this province, behind impaired driving. On average, 88 people are killed each year in B.C. due to driver distractions, about 30 of them right here in the Lower Mainland.

The provincial government and ICBC have launched a campaign to once again remind people about the implications of texting, reading or doing other things behind the wheel other than just driving.

The campaign includes new TV, radio and theatre advertisements and other public service announcements, as well as stepped up police enforcement of distracted driving around the province.

The goal is to remind people that nothing should be as important when you’re driving as what’s on the road around you.

“There really is no excuse for looking away from the road for a text, call or other distraction,” says Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and B.C.’s Minister of Justice.

“Both enforcement and advertising are ramping up to help reinforce a simple yet vital message: if you’re driving, keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.”

Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, says drivers are four times more likely to crash if they’re using their phone while driving.

“We are asking drivers to leave their phones alone and stay focused on the road. A text or a call is not worth risking your life over.”

The campaign also includes special decals developed by ICBC for its customers to display on their vehicles as a statement to other drivers that they don’t use their cellphone while driving. They encourage other drivers to do the same. You can pick one up at an ICBC driver licensing offices and participating Autoplan broker locations across B.C.

Volunteers with Cell Watch, an educational initiative aimed at reducing distracted driving, will also be reminding drivers to leave their phones alone and visiting community events with a driving simulator that the public can try.

This latest distracted driving campaign is clearly needed. A recent Ipsos Reid survey commissioned by ICBC shows that 84 per cent of B.C. drivers who own cell phones agree that texting while driving is risky, yet 25 per cent admit doing it.

John Dickinson, ICBC’s director of road safety, says distracted driving is a growing concern as more people become dependent on staying connected.

He says drivers automatically reach for their phone when they hear a text message or phone call – a bad habit that needs to be broken.

“Getting people to leave their phone alone while driving will go a long way to making our roads safer and in reducing claims costs and insurance rates,” he says.

I couldn’t agree more, and with all the new hands free technology available in today’s new cars and trucks, it’s not a difficult feat. Let’s all do our part to keep our roads safe.

For more tips and information on this year’s distracted driving campaign, visit icbc.com.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at bqualey@newcardealers.ca.

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