"Operation Hang Up" cracks down on distracted driving

Police across the region were working with ICBC on "Operation Hang-up", a campaign to stop distracted driving, the second-highest cause of fatal crashes in BC..

Officers, volunteers, and ICBC staff were posted around the city today, handing out tickets and raising awareness on the dangers of driving distracted.

Victoria Police Constable Matt Rutherford says they were specifically looking for people using devices, but there are a number of distractions that drivers should avoid.

"Whether you're eating, you're drinking coffee, you have your pet on your lap, all of those things your ability to pay attention to the road around you away.  So we want people when they're behind the wheel to have one job, and that's to get to your destination safely, and allow everyone to get to their destination safely, and you're not doing that when you're on your phone."

He adds that conditions on the road can change suddenly and without warning, and drivers need to be constantly alert to what's happening.

"Somebody might run out in front of your car, a cyclist may fall.  You just don't know because it changes around you and you just need to pay attention and be alive to that fact, and you're not doing that when you're on the phone."

ICBC's Road Safety Coordinator, Colleen Woodger, says there agrees with Rutherford in that there are a lot of distractions, but the biggest one is the phone.  She says there are ways driver's can prepare themselves before hitting the road.

"Programming all your systems in your car before getting on the road, so that you're not doing it in traffic.  You really want to be smart about the technology by having it ready ahead of time.  If you need your GPS, pull over and sort that out.  If you have trouble taking a break from the phone while driving, turn the ringer, get it out of sight, out of reach, so that the temptation is gone."

1 in 4 fatal crashes in BC, and an average of 10 deaths on Vancouver Island each year, are due to distracted driving.

Police handed out 85 distracted driving tickets Wednesday, and 28 on Tuesday.  Those tickets come with 4 demerit points, and a 368 dollar fine.

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