Saanich police traffic safety officers and members of the CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit joined forces to cracking down on distracted driving at the McKenzie/Quadra intersection in Saanich on March 3. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich police traffic safety officers and members of the CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit joined forces to cracking down on distracted driving at the McKenzie/Quadra intersection in Saanich on March 3. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

‘Leave the phone alone’: 40 distracted driving tickets issued in two hours at Saanich intersection

Saanich police, CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit crackdown on drivers’ cell-phone use

A distracted driving crackdown at a Saanich intersection resulted in police issuing nearly 70 tickets in two hours on Wednesday morning.

Starting at 8 a.m. on March 3, Saanich police and members of the CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) scoured the intersection of McKenzie Avenue and Quadra street for drivers using electronic devices as part of a Distracted Driving Month campaign conducted every March with ICBC.

By 10 a.m., the officers had issued 67 tickets – 40 for cellphone-use and the rest for not using seatbelts, intersection violations and other offences, said Colleen Woodger, road safety and community coordinator for ICBC.

READ ALSO: BC RCMP defines use of an electronic device after ticketing Saanich mom

The morning was a reflection of similar enforcement happening across B.C., she said. Using an electronic device while driving is the second leading cause of fatal crashes in the province – about 78 deaths annually.

Staff Sgt. Jereme Leslie with the IRSU emphasized that while there are many different things that can draw drivers’ attention away from their task, any time drivers take their eyes off the road the risks increase.

“It’s really important that you’re using all of your faculties while you’re driving and ensuring you’re aware of your surrounding,” he said.

READ ALSO: Unclear laws to blame for cupholder cellphone tickets: lawyer

Not only can distracted driving lead to serious injuries or fatality, but it can also result in a hefty fine. Drivers are issued a $368 ticket under the Motor Vehicle Act and four demerit points on their licence.

Fully licenced drivers who receive more than two distracted driving tickets in three years face up to $2,500 in fines and premiums. Those who receive two or more tickets in one year may have their record reviewed with the potential for a driving ban lasting up to a year.

Drivers with a learner’s or a novice licence have a zero-tolerance policy and face a six-month driving ban on their first offense. Young drivers are still establishing their driving habits and using electronics behind the wheel can’t be treated lightly, Woodger said.

Leslie noted distracted driving isn’t just an issue among young drivers. “We’re really seeing a large age range – everything from grandparents all the way down to new drivers.”

READ ALSO: Victoria woman who drove with phone on driver’s seat acquitted of distracted driving charge


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distracted drivingICBCSaanich Police Department

 

(Left to right) Const. Markus Anastasides, public information officer for the Saanich Police Department, Colleen Woodger, road safety and community coordinator for ICBC, and Staff Sgt. Jereme Leslie with the CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit joined forces to tackle distracted driving at the McKenzie/Quadra intersection in Saanich on March 3. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

(Left to right) Const. Markus Anastasides, public information officer for the Saanich Police Department, Colleen Woodger, road safety and community coordinator for ICBC, and Staff Sgt. Jereme Leslie with the CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit joined forces to tackle distracted driving at the McKenzie/Quadra intersection in Saanich on March 3. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)