In today’s world, it’s become alarmingly easy for our attention to steer away from the road while driving.
Const. Alex Berube, an RCMP media relations officer with Greater Victoria’s West Shore detachment, says he has encountered a wide-range of unusual incidents where people have been driving while distracted.
“We see, more often than you would think, people eating full-on meals, lunch or breakfast, with cutlery and everything,” laughed Berube. “It’s scary because you will see them steering with their knee, holding a cereal bowl in one hand and a spoon in the other.”
On March 15, West Shore RCMP tweeted that they stopped a vehicle that was reportedly being driven erratically on Sooke Road, and the driver explained it was because she was removing her bra.
“This is distracted driving too!” the tweet said.
Saanich Police also recently notified the public that having pets, objects and passengers obstruct a driver’s view out the front or side windows is considered a distraction.
Having a large dog in the passenger seat blocking the window could lead to a ticket for driving while the view is obstructed – an infraction that brings a $109 fine and three penalty points, said Const. Markus Anastasiades, public information officer for the Saanich Police Department. A driver trying to control a pet running around in the vehicle may receive a $368 ticket for driving without due care and attention.
Berube says he’s been an officer long enough that nothing surprises him anymore. He has often witnessed men shaving their faces, women doing their makeup, and people reading books while driving.
“It’s not just a brochure or a magazine either, it’s been full-on novels,” said Berube. “That book must be incredibly captivating to be reading it while behind the wheel.”
Though life is busy and people are often in a hurry, Berube warns of the risk and serious consequences of distracted driving. A fine for a first-time offence of distracted driving starts at $368, along with four points off your licence at a cost of $210 to ICBC. For the next offence, the cost of the penalty rises.
The most common reason for people taking their eyes off the road is due to cellphones, Berube said, as police catch people scrolling behind the wheel daily.
Aside from keeping your eyes on the road, other safe driving tips Bérubé reminds the public of is to keep a safe distance between other vehicles, use caution when reversing, use your signals when changing lanes and turning, try to stay visible and out of other drivers’ blind spots, and obey signs and signals.
“The road rage is something we see a lot as well, and it’s important to recognize that every driver makes a mistake from time to time, it’s human nature,” said Berube. “We have to take a deep breath and not let situations escalate, otherwise our heart rate rises, vision narrows, and it makes driving dangerous.”
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-With files from Devon Bidal
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