04/08/2015 07:20 EDT | Updated 06/08/2015 05:59 EDT

Centennial Secondary students get a lesson in driving distractions

It's a message that can't be driven home enough.

Distracted driving was the leading cause of death on roads in British Columbia last year and students at Centennial Secondary School in Coquitlam got a chance to learn that lesson first-hand Wednesday.

Focus on driving

Cpl. Quentin Frewing of Coquitlam RCMP Traffic Services said it's important for everyone to focus on driving rather than speaking on the phone, or texting when behind the wheel.

"Half of the class doesn't have their license yet, but it's the best time to get the point into their minds," Frewing said, adding that students and cellphones are rarely far apart.

The RCMP and ICBC are working together to take that message to high schools.

"Those cell phones are so tempting," he said. "They buzz and ring...and you don't realise you've looked at it for longer than a few seconds."

But that's all it takes to have an accident.

Students did driving simulations and a walking/texting obstacle course to experience how dangerous it is to be distracted while moving.

Student reaction

Grade 11 students Louis Mair and Narissa Velji tried the activities and said the concentration it takes to drive while distracted was difficult.

Both of them drive with a parent and said they put their phones away and on silent when they drive.

"It's too dangerous," Mair said.

Kathleen Madalain, ICBC road safety co-ordinator, said drivers are four times more likely to be in a crash if they use a cell phone.

"Approximately 86 British Columbians die each year due to texting and talking," she said, adding speeding and impaired driving are among the leading causes of road deaths.

Distracted driving also carries a penalty. If caught you could be fined $167 and get three demerit points.