Community policing volunteers teamed up with ICBC and Oceanside RCMP to curb distracted driving.
On Sept. 18, a joint operation was set up on Highway 19A near Resort Drive where volunteers used a speed board while also counting distracted drivers.
“This is about education and creating awareness,” ICBC road safety coordinator Caroline Robinson told The NEWS Thursday from the campaign’s strategic location. “The objective is a reduction in injuries and fatalities.”
Speedwatch and the COPS volunteers counted 1,757 vehicles that passed in the north and southbound lanes from 9 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.
Oceanside RCMP Cpl. Jesse Foreman said despite the fact that the volunteers were “very visible” 30 people were openly talking on their cell phones.
Robinson said people need to focus on driving while they’re on the road, instead of texting or talking on the phone.
“If people think about it (distracted driving) for 15 minutes after they drive through, then we’ve gotten the message out,” she said.
Police officers were nearby to follow up with enforcement if necessary — but mostly the campaign was about educating drivers and raising awareness about road safety.
“Our goal is to calm traffic,” said Roy Harris, District 69 Speed Watch coordinator. “Which is particularly important now that the schools are opening.”
Harris said the volunteers received a lot of support and thumbs up from drivers who appreciate what they are doing, but admitted they did get some angry drivers who verbally assaulted them.
Foreman said this type of operation is set up a few times every year to remind drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
According to ICBC, an average of 12 people a year are killed in distracted driving-related collisions on Vancouver Island alone. Distracted driving has now surpassed impaired driving-related fatalities and is responsible for one quarter of all car crash fatalities in the province. ICBC statistics prove drivers are four times more likely to get into a car accident while on the phone.