Chilliwack RCMP mount ‘distracted driver’ enforcement blitz

Chilliwack RCMP officer warning drivers using cellphones catches Internet attention.

Chilliwack RCMP Const. Martell

A Chilliwack RCMP officer seen holding a sign warning drivers using a cellphone they were about to get a ticket was part of a “distracted driver” enforcement blitz.

A picture of Chilliwack RCMP Const. Martell holding the sign Sunday at the corner of Vedder Road and Promontory Road went viral on the Internet, but how many distracted drivers were ticketed in the blitz hasn’t yet been released.

Like booze and drugs, using a cellphone while driving a vehicle is illegal, but drivers in the Lower Mainland don’t seem to be getting the message.

Last month, during a similar blitz by the Lower Mainland RCMP, 4,449 tickets were issued for the use of electronic devices while driving, nearly double from the same time period in 2011 when 2,300 tickets were issued.

RCMP Supt. Norm Gaumont was “extremely disappointed” by those results.

“They are putting the lives of others and their own at risk by not paying attention to the road,” he said in a news release.

“Traffic patterns change very quickly, especially in an urban centre, as there is no time to put down your phone and react to the change,” he said.

In 2011, distracted driving was a contributing factor in 45 per cent of all collisions reported in the Lower Mainland.

The fine for using an electronic device without a hands-free unit while driving is $167.