EDITORIAL: Going for a drive, leave the phone alone

We say: A split second of your attention from the road is enough to cost someone’s life

One would think it wouldn’t still need to be said.

But RCMP and ICBC are again reminding drivers to leave the phone alone.

They’re launching yet another campaign aimed at underlining just how dangerous it is to use a phone while driving.

And it is dangerous.

According to ICBC, 25 per cent of all road deaths in the province involve distracted driving. That’s one in four.

And, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the odds of crashing increase five times when using a phone, whether dialing, texting, reading or using social media.

On Vancouver Island, it’s estimated that 10 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes every year.

Faced with those numbers, it’s hard to imagine why drivers would still use their phone while they’re behind the wheel.

But they do. According to a recent survey by Ipsos Reid, 34  per cent of cell phone users said they use their phone between one and five times out of every 10 trips.

“It’s time we all commit to leaving our phones alone and avoid other forms of distraction when we’re behind the wheel,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s director responsible for road safety.

This month police, backed by volunteers like Chilliwack Speedwatch, will be on the roads watching for drivers who have not yet got the message.

“We’re cracking down on those who cannot police themselves,” said Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “Even when you’re at a red light or in slow moving traffic – you’re still in control of a vehicle – and the law still applies.”

Is checking your phone worth a ticket, or worse, an accident? No.

We can all be part of the solution. Talk to your family, talk to your friends and remind them that if they’re driving without their full attention on the road they’re an accident waiting to happen.