Distracted driving number one cause of fatal crashes in Kelowna

Distracted driving is the cause of more than half of Kelowna's fatal traffic accidents.

That's according to ICBC Road Safety Manager Mark Milner.

"On average each year in Kelowna, there are seven people who die in traffic collisions. In four of those seven crashes, distraction is one of the contributing factors," he said.

"Province-wide, we see about 78 people each year - almost 3 in 10 - get in fatal crashes involving distracted driving."

He says ICBC's campaign throughout September is trying to relate to the struggle of not picking up that phone.

"We started doing some research with focus groups, and what we found was that the majority of people responded better to messages that were a little bit more positive in nature," he said.

"They didn't really respond to a fear-based message, and that's largely, I think, because they already recognize the risk."

Last month, Kelowna RCMP stopped nearly 60 drivers in about three and a half hours, mostly for distracted driving.

Milner says many people don't realize how costly getting a ticket is, which starts with a fine of $368 and four driver penalty points.

"That will generate an invoice from ICBC of at least $175, depending on how many points you have. Four points, it's $175 - but if you get two tickets in one year, the driver penalty points portion will be $520. That'll be a total of $1256 that you end up paying for those two tickets," he said.

The Corporation will also review your record if you surpass four points in a year, and potentially suspend your license from between 3 and 12 months.

Milner says that distracted driving in BC actually causes more crashes than impaired driving does every year.