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

distracted drivingVicPD

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: A morning in a physically-distanced Victoria

Residents commute in a pandemic-changed city

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Saanich bylaw sparks EV charging infrastructure requirements in new builds

All new developments to be EV-charger compatible starting Sept. 1

Summer program helps Greater Victoria teens sharpen writing skills

Registration for the program runs until Aug. 17

Langford cuts red tape, engages in random acts of kindness to uplift spirits

‘I Am Langford’ campaign promotes supporting local

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Most Read