Cpl. Darren Stevens of the Shelburne RCMP.
By Amy Woolvett
Everyone sees it, people talking on cellphones, texting or just not giving their full attention while behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Distracted drivers are dangerous.
Experts including the Insurance Bureau of Canada are calling distracted driving as dangerous as drunk driving, but more common.
“Distracted driving is not paying attention to the moment,” said Cpl. Darren Stevens with the Shelburne RCMP.
Statistics show distracted driving is increasing and more fatalities are resulting.
Cell phones are one of the most common distractions for drivers. According to the RCMP, drivers engaged in text messaging on a cell phone are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near crash event compared with non-distracted drivers.
They said some alarming statistics are on the rise including 84 percent of distracted driving related fatalities were tied to the general classification of carelessness of inattentiveness and 80 percent of collisions and 65-percent of near crashes cite inattentiveness as a contributing factor.
They are three more times as likely to be in a crash as an attentive driver and is a factor in about $4-million accidents in North America each year.
Locally, the Shelburne RCMP has seen an increase of drivers using hand held cell phones while operating a motor vehicle.
Because of this, the Shelburne RCMP will be conducting a blitz on distracted driving beginning with education, being followed through with citations and hopefully ending with fewer distracted drivers on the road.
The first offence is $176.45, the second $233.95 and third is $348.95.
Cpl. Stevens said the cost could be much higher.
He wanted to clear up some misconceptions over the law concerning cell phone use.
Hand held cell phones or communication devices are not allowed to be used for talk or texting purposes while driving on any road or highway. It is not allowed while stopped at an intersection or traffic light. If it is an emergency, pull over when it is safe and take or place the call.
Cpl. Stevens is hoping with the blitz that better long term habits will be formed concerning distracted driving and cell phone usage while driving.