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February 9, 2012

Cell Phones: a Fatal Distraction

Distracted driving is once again in the news, making front page of The Province newspaper on Tuesday.

The good news: progress is being made in the fight against distracted driving. The bad news: distracted driving is still the number one contributor to fatal car crashes in the Lower Mainland. Last year, 27 people were killed in BC as a result of distracted driving, down from 46 in 2010. The goal for 2012 is to reduce the number of fatalities to 20 says Norm Gaumont, head of Traffic Services for the Lower Mainland District Regional Police Services.

But is a “20 death goal” acceptable for something so totally preventable?

The Lower Mainland RCMP is once again cracking down on distracted driving. The hope is that the $167 fines being handed out might deter drivers from picking up their phones while behind the wheel.

And for a younger audience, a new awareness program called Drop It and Drive focuses the attention on kids not yet old enough to own a driver’s licence.

Karen Bowman, founder of the program, says her top priority is to make the next generation of drivers understand that distracted driving is as serious as drinking and driving. Part of her challenge will be to spread the message to parents who may not realize the seriousness of distracted driving.

Drop It and Drive offers presentations throughout Canada about the potentially fatal consequences of distracted driving. They are geared to high school, elementary school, and corporate audiences. The message is simple. Make driving your only priority when behind the wheel of a car.

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