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It starts today: distracted drivers targeted by RCMP

Traffic services units throughout the West Kootenay will join other traffic units across the province as they focus on distracted drivers throughout the month of February. 

Despite the new legislation banning the use of cell phones and other handheld electronic devices while driving, police have noticed more drivers taking chances, talking and texting while driving.

Out of the 104 distracted driving-related collision fatalities that occurred in RCMP jurisdictions in 2010, 30 were from the Southeast District (including the West Kootenay), 14 were from the Island District, 45 were from the Lower Mainland District and 15 were from the North District.

If drivers need to make a phone call on a cellular phone or check email, an RCMP release said, they are advised to use a hands free device, or pull their vehicle over.

The fine for using an electronic device without hands-free while driving is $167. Drivers caught texting or emailing may receive three driver penalty points (DPP) in addition to the fine.

Drivers in the graduated licensing program (GLP) are not permitted to use any prescribed electronic device, even if it is hands-free. GLP drivers will receive the $167 fine and three DPP for violating the distracted driving legislation.