B.C. Mounties are ramping up distracted driving enforcement this month

At least 76 people die in motor vehicle collisions each year, because the driver was distracted or not paying attention to the road – accidents that BC RCMP says are completely preventable.

On Monday, BC RCMP kicked off their Distracted Driving and Occupant Restraint enforcement campaign for September. Throughout the month, Mounties across the province will be stepping up with distracted driving enforcement, working with ICBC and RoadSafetyBC.

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“It all starts with you,” said Supt. Holly Turton, officer in charge of BC RCMP Traffic Services, in a statement.

“Ask yourself if it is worth your life or someone else’s to answer a call, check your email or send that text while you are driving. Please make the right choice when you drive – ignore your phone and drive responsibly – your life may depend on it – and others may depend on you to get to your destination safely.”

Distracted driving can be more than just using an electronic device, according to RCMP. It can also include other distractions such as personal grooming, eating/drinking, reading, pets, other passengers and not knowing your route.

These distractions can lead to drivers not being able to maintain their lane or a steady speed, stopping well short of the stop line or failing to stop altogether, or remaining stopped even though other traffic has started moving, according to RCMP.

Fines for distracted driving start at $368, plus four penalty points and a $252 driver penalty premium assessed by ICBC, for a minimum $620 for a first offence. Insurance costs may also be affected.

The enforcement campaign will also focus on the use of seatbelts.

RCMP say that while seatbelt compliance is generally quite high in B.C., on average 52 people are killed each year in collisions that may have been survivable had restraints been worn.

Occupant restraints refers to all occupants of a vehicle, including children who are required to be secured in approved infant or child seats for their age and height.

Police recommend always buckling up, even when going a short distance.

The fine for not wearing a seatbelt is $167.

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