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

Two men attempt robbery at Sooke McDonalds

At approximately 2:50 a.m. Sunday morning, two men wearing masks attempted to… Continue reading

B.C. BUDGET: Fare freeze, free travel for seniors on BC Ferries

A complete fare freeze will be put into place on major routes, and fares will be rolled back on smaller routes by 15 per cent

‘Where the hell are the environmental monitors?’ says Colquitz activist

McKenzie construction continues to pollute Colquitz

Victoria cannabis advocates call proposed trust fund an ‘overreach’

BCICA says North Saanich councillor’s ideas on cannabis ‘cherry picking’

‘Pendulum’ swings Indigenous arts onto the Belfry Theatre stage

From contemporary to traditional, ‘it’s a magic show’ says Indigenous Artist in Residence

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Video: B.C. firefighters featured in quirky video

Oliver Fire Department posts video about their B.C. volunteer firefighter spring training seminar

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Two more medals push Canada into second place

A gold in ski cross and a bronze in bobsleigh as men’s hockey advances to the semis

Trudeau reiterates denial of Sikh separatists in cabinet, condemns extremism

“We will always stand against violent extremism, but we understand that diversity of views is one of the great strengths of Canada.”

Canada wins gold in men’s ski cross

Leman earns redemption with ski cross gold; Homan out early

Trump says more must be done to protect children

In a tweet Tuesday night, Trump indicated he wants to strengthen the background check system, but offered no specifics.

Evangelist Billy Graham has died at 99

Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.

Canadians capture bronze in women’s bobsled event

Canadians Humphries, George take bronze in women’s bobsled event at Olympics

Most Read