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

Challengers topple incumbents in several South Island races

2018 civic election ushers in new faces across the CRD

Victoria and Saanich voters elect to move ahead with amalgamation talks

Victoria and Saanich voters have chosen to move ahead with exploring amalgamation… Continue reading

Prank pizzas delivered to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps’ campaign celebration

The fake orders happened throughout Helps’ campaign

VIDEO: Tent city moves to Woodwynn Farm, arrests made

The group is asking the government to provide housing for 60 tent city members

Cougar spotted Saturday morning in Saanich

Police found paw prints consistent with cougars in the area

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

2018 municipal election: Few surprises on Vancouver Island

16 incumbent mayors will continue in their positions for four more years

MLA to become Nanaimo’s next mayor, could weaken NDP’s grasp on power

Leonard Krog’s win will trigger a byelection when he gives up his provincial seat

Horvat nets OT winner as Canucks beat Bruins 2-1

Young Vancouver star had spirited scrap earlier in contest

Team Canada gold medal winners for first time in world curling championship

Team Canada earned gold in Kelowna at the 2018 Winn Rentals World Mixed Curling Championship

Payette invites critics to ‘come and spend a few days’ with her

Governor General Julie Payette made her first official to B.C. back in March

More pot stores expected in B.C. in coming ‘weeks and months’: attorney general

Attorney General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth visited the new BC Cannabis Store in the province’s Interior

Most Read