On the phone while behind the wheel. Police say far too many drivers can't put down their devices.

Road reality out of step with distracted driving beliefs

Tickets rise despite poll showing most convinced of risk

A new poll shows B.C. drivers overwhelmingly believe talking or texting behind the wheel on a mobile phone is extremely dangerous.

Yet 16 per cent admit talking recently on a handheld phone and nine per cent admit they texted or emailed while driving.

The Ipsos Reid survey conducted for ICBC found 87 per cent of respondents believe texting or emailing while driving is one of the riskiest behaviours on the road and 50 per cent believe talking on a handheld phone is as risky as drunk driving.

The results come after RCMP said they ticketed 2,043 Lower Mainland drivers over a six-week period this summer – nearly twice as many as the 1,197 tickets for $167 issued in the same period in 2010.

RCMP Insp. Norm Gaumont said the ticket blitz showed lots of people continue to text or talk on their phones – even 18 months after B.C. brought in its distracted driving law.

“It’s a new phenomenon that’s come upon us – a young generation that are really tied to their devices and they can’t let them go,” he said.

“I see it every day. People are still using their phones, still texting. They’re looking down at their knees.”

Distracted or inattentive driving is the number one cause of 45 per cent of fatal crashes in the Lower Mainland, Gaumont said, adding it’s the worst rate of any region in the province.

“It really causes devastation on our road ways,” he said.

Gaumont said another RCMP ticket blitz in September will again target illegal use of electronic devices and failure to use seatbelts.

More than half of drivers surveyed in the Ipsos poll reported seeing other drivers break the ban on handheld device use several times a day.

The top excuses for using a hand-held phone while driving?

Forty-two per cent said it was a very short call or they use the speaker function.

Others said they pulled over after answering (37 per cent) or they were stopped at a red light (29 per cent).

Still others said they don’t have a hands-free system or that “it’s simply a force of habit.”

“Many people don’t realize that it’s also illegal to take a call or text while waiting in traffic or stopped for a red light,” said Fiona Temple, ICBC’s director of road safety.

“You lose 50 per cent of what’s going on around you when you’re talking or texting on a hand-held device. This makes you four times more likely to get in a crash.”

For info on distracted driving penalties and tips on safe use of cellphones, see www.drivecellsafe.ca.

Just Posted

B.C. parents missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in free money

Chilliwack financial advisor still banging the drum over unclaimed $1,200 RESP grant cash

Chilliwack’s Philomusica Chorus offers Mother’s Day music

Songs include Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Sentimental Journey at spring concert

Chilliwack driver busted with heroin after nodding off behind the wheel

29-year-old man from Vancouver facing possible charges

Vancouver TheatreSports finishes off Harrison’s Season of Performing Arts

Vancovuer TheatreSports will be performing in Harrison on May 4

Job market to remain tight in coming years: report

Conference Board of Canada predicts region’s unemployment rate to remain below five per cent

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Be wary of robot emotions; ‘simulated love is never love’

Research has shown that people have a tendency to project human traits onto robots

Two Vancouver police officers could face charges in crash that injured five: IIO

IIO BC requests consideration of charges against two Vancouver police officers driving two police vehicles

LETTER: Chilliwack trustee says she never suggested banning books

Setting record straight, she says, after backlash over meeting discussion

5 to start your day

Worst 10 bus routes in Metro Vancouver released, woman, 60, charged in connection to thefts at YVR and more

One million recyclable bottles ‘lost’ daily in B.C., foundation says

387 million beverage containers didn’t make it back into the province’s regulated deposit refund system in 2017

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Woman, 60, charged in connection to thefts at YVR

RCMP believe the foreign national is part of a larger organized theft group

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Most Read