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Vancouver police hand out 2,000 distracted driving tickets in September

Drivers often text in plain sight of officers becuase they are distracted, says VPD

A man texts while behind the wheel of a vehicle in Vancouver.

Jennifer Gauthier / Metro Order this photo

A man texts while behind the wheel of a vehicle in Vancouver.

Vancouver police issued nearly 2,000 tickets for distracted driving in September alone.

Distracted driving is the leading cause of traffic deaths – surpassing drunk driving – but many drivers still refuse to give up the habit of checking their phones while behind the wheel.

Officers handed out 1,969 tickets in total since Sept. 1, proving that many drivers are still refusing to give up the habit of checking their phones while behind the wheel. 

“There’s probably a lot more going on. We’ve all seen it,” said Sgt. Jason Robillard, spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department.

“You see a car swerving and you go by that car and you see that they are on their phone. That’s dangerous behaviour. You don’t have to be a police officer to know that this is a problem.”

Drivers can be fined $368 for using an electronic device while driving but that isn't enough to deter everyone from doing it, so police are asking the public to reach out to friends and family who text or call while behind the wheel.

"Perhaps you’ll have some influence to discourage them," said Robillard.

The 2,000 tickets written in September was part of a month-long provincial campaign to stop distracted driving but police will continue to keep an eye out for people on their phones while driving, he said.

“We can always change the way we catch people, but we don’t need to,” he said. 

In fact, distracted drivers often continue to text with officers in plain sight because they aren’t aware of their surroundings.  

“[Officers] are in uniform, walking up to cars, and they are so focused on their phones, they don’t see the officer. If you can’t see an officer standing in front of you, you’re not going to see something else, a hazardous situation, or a child running in front of you.”

The habit of checking one's phone can be so strong that one person was handed two tickets in a span of eight minutes, said Robillard. In another instance, officers ticketed a driver after spotting her driving while eating lunch with both hands off the wheel and a phone on her lap. 

Police recommend that people call 9-1-1 if they spot dangerous or distracted driving, said Robillard.

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