A Saanich Police officer issues a $368 ticket for distracted driving during a morning campaign at Quadra and McKenzie on March 6. Arnold Lim/Black Press

Traffic blitz nails 86 distracted drivers in Greater Victoria

In one morning, Saanich Police catch 21 drivers on handheld electronics at Quadra and McKenzie

Saanich Police wrote up 21 distracted driving tickets to drivers using handheld electronic devices while staked out at the McKenzie and Quadra intersection on Tuesday morning.

The effort was part of a district-wide campaign led by ICBC that saw 86 tickets issued for use of electronic devices while driving plus another 63 violations, from eight different locations, between 7 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

At $368 for the distracted driving violation, plus another $175 to clear the four-point penalty on the ICBC driver premium that goes with it, the costs add up fast. Drivers caught using electronic devices twice in a three-year period could pay as much as $2,000 in penalties. Despite the costs, distracted driving remains the second leading cause of vehicle crashes in the province, said ICBC road and safety coordinator Colleen Woodger.

“We still have some work ahead of us,” she said. “Distracted driving is the second leading cause of crashes. Drivers need to drop the phone and focus on driving.”

ICBC and Saanich Police chose McKenzie and Quadra for its high traffic rate and also its high crash rate.

“It’s quite surprising the number of people we pull over, quite a few in an intersection like this,” said Saanich Police acting Sgt. Jereme Leslie. “Texting, using the map or emailing are not allowed on a handheld device. What is permitted is setting up the map on a mounted phone before you drive.”

Tuesday’s pullovers were mostly routine ‘phone checkers,’ though one person was on their tablet.

The most egregious offender Leslie has seen was as a member of IRSU, once pulled over someone shaving, eating cereal and talking on the phone while speeding on the Malahat.

Police agencies across B.C. have lots of enforcement planned this month.

“Distracted driving is the use of handheld devices, and it’s also eating or anything taking attention off the road,” Woodger said.

Intersections are an ideal place to run a distracted driving campaigns because a lot of people think it’s okay to pull out their phone at a stop sign or red light, Woodger said.

“It is not. The most common type of distracted driving crash is a rear-ender and 60 per cent of crashes are at intersections,” she said.

ICBC’s provincial distracted driving campaign will continue throughout March.

reporter@saanichnews.com

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