VicPD hopes distracted driving education pilot gains provincial traction

Ticketed offenders given option of accepting fine and points or taking seminar

A VicPD officer issues a distracted driving ticket earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)

VicPD has launched an educational pilot program that aims to reduce distracted driving.

Although there have been increased fines and penalty points – it’s now $543 and four demerit points for the first infraction – fatalities related to distracted driving are still higher than from impaired driving.

VicPD teamed up with Restorative Justice Victoria, ICBC, RoadSafetyBC and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation to offer distracted driving education to first-time offenders ticketed during a two-day campaign last month.

Those caught were given the option of attending the Drop it and Drive seminar or accepting the hefty fine and demerit points – 32 of 42 ticketed drivers attended.

The groups hope their efforts lead to a provincewide education campaign.

VicPD Const. Sean Millard, who has been involved with the new program, hopes an educational approach can help drivers understand how dangerous distracted driving can be, and change their attitudes.

“When people came in, they came with their arms crossed, their body language was cold and they were shut down to opening up and participating,” he said.

But as the seminar continued, he said, he could see a shift happening.

“I could see the impact on people. They could visually see what the consequences were …[thinking] ‘wait a second, is this really worth it?’”

People often don’t understand what distracted driving is, Millard said.

Comments made by seminar participants indicated a belief that texting at a red light or moving to plug in a phone while driving was acceptable, he said. And the temptation people feel to check their phones can be irresistible.

“I think the sound of a phone going off, people just can’t not look at it. They’re afraid of missing that two seconds in life that someone may have sent an important message,” he said. “Sometimes I think people think [the messages] are more important than they are.”

But it’s not just about texting and driving, he said.

“Distracted driving is [also] when your three-year-old kid is throwing a fit in the back seat and you turn around to soothe them and take your eyes off the road and get in a rear-end collision.”

Drop it and Drive was presented by Karen Bowman, a civilian who’d been hit by distracted drivers twice, including one incident where her daughter was injured.

The Traffic Injury Research Foundation will follow up with participants after six and 12 months through anonymous survey, to determine whether their attitudes and actions have changed. VicPD will also be checking their databases to see if the drivers re-offend.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Royal Roads University to host a Black History Month panel

Four speakers will discuss being of African heritage in B.C.

VIDEO: Friday night fire outside Saanich Staples

Witness says two employees helped put out blaze

Victoria non-profit empowers women escaping abusive homes with a fresh start

Organization’s gift certificate program helped around 400 women last year

VIDEO: Royal Bay Secondary students take flight in ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’

Play tells the story of the orphan who becomes Peter Pan

Canadian employment services industry reached $1 billion in revenues

Employment services industry up nearly 12 per cent over 2016

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying?

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

Most Read