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Picking off Chilliwack's distracted drivers from a cherry picker

Why isn
Why isn't the message getting through to put the phone down? Const. Michael Sabulsky had this to say: 'We have all become so used to using our cell phones that I think it's a habit for many people to simply have it in their hands, and they tend to look down while driving. Well it's not safe. It kills people and causes massive amounts of property damage.'
— image credit: JENNIFER FEINBERG/ PROGRESS

Every call, text and tweet can wait.

That's the thinking behind the March Distracted Driving Enforcement campaign that is nationwide.

Chilliwack drivers at Vedder and Luckakuck Way got a vivid reminder to leave the phone alone — or face a $167 fine and three points.

A total of 77 tickets were handed out. Most were for distracted driving, like using a cell phone.

“No call or text is so important it’s worth risking your life.” said Cpl. Mike Rail ”Let calls go to voicemail and ignore your text messages while driving.”

Stats show someone is five times more likely to crash if they are on the phone or not paying attention to the road.

Distracted driving kills 81 people on average every year.

"It's devastating," said RCMP Const. Michael Sabulsky, acting corporal in charge of the Chilliwack detachment's Traffic Section. "Today's focus is distracted driving offences so we are focused on cell phones, as well as seat belts and anything else that presents a danger to the public."

A total of 37 people got dinged for being on their cell or other electronic device. Another 18 got written up for not wearing a seatbelt. Sixteen had a defective vehicle, and one got a 3-day Immediate Roadside Prohibition for alcohol.

The local effort of the national Distracted Driving campaign was by Chilliwack Traffic section with partners Safer City, ICBC, Speed Watch and Fraser Valley Traffic Services.

There was a constant stream of vehicles being pulled over on that sunny afternoon.

"We got here earlier than planned," said Sabulsky. "We haven't stopped writing (tickets). We have probably 12 officers here and can't keep up with the number of offences that we are seeing."

So why isn't the message getting through to put the phone down?

"That's a good question," the officer said.

"We have all become so used to using our cell phones that I think it's a habit for many people to simply have in their hands, and they tend to look down at it while driving. Well it's not safe. It kills people and causes massive amounts of property damage."

Volunteers during the campaign were busy educating drivers, while RCMP wrote tickets or acted as spotters, including one in a cherry-picker above traffic, using high-powered scopes to see device holding drivers from great distances away.

"It was an extremely successful day in both enforcement and awareness action," said Const. Sabulsky.

Violation tickets (77) served :

18 - Failing to wear seat belt

37 - Using electronic device

16 - Defective vehicle

01 - Improper motorcycle helmet

01 - Red light at intersection

03 - Notice and Orders (Unsafe Vehicles)

01 - Three-day immediate roadside prohibition (Alcohol)

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