03/06/2012 06:11 EST | Updated 05/06/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. cellphone driving blitz nails 4,449 drivers

RCMP in B.C.’s Lower Mainland say they handed out 4,449 tickets for distracted driving offences during a February blitz.

That’s nearly double the 2,300 tickets handed to drivers found to be using hand-held electronic devices while driving in February 2011, the force said in a release Tuesday.

"I am extremely disappointed in these results, as it shows that drivers aren't taking the dangers of using hand-held devices while driving seriously," said RCMP Supt. Norm Gaumont. "We must continue delivering the message and educating the public on how dangerous distracted driving really is. They are putting the lives of others and their own at risk.”

Distracted driving was a contributing factor to 27 fatalities in 2011, down from the 46 in 2010, the release said.

Other high-rated traffic violations during the enforcement blitz included 3,516 speeding tickets, 2,550 for not wearing or misusing a seatbelt and 2,164 intersection infractions, such as running red lights or turning left on a red light.

The fine for driving while using an electronic device not in hands-free mode is $167.

The numbers reported are only for those areas policed by the RCMP and do not include Lower Mainland municipalities with local forces, such as Vancouver and Delta.