09/05/2013 02:32 EDT | Updated 11/05/2013 05:12 EST

ICBC, Police Crackdown On Distracted Driving


ICBC is teaming up with the B.C. government and police all over the province for a month-long crackdown on distracted driving, urging drivers to 'Leave the Phone Alone'.

It has been illegal to use personal electronic devices, including a hand-held cellphone, while driving in B.C. since Jan. 1, 2010. Penalties include a $167 fine and three penalty points.

Despite this, distracted driving is the third leading cause of fatal collisions in B.C., behind speeding and impaired driving, and caused a quarter of all crashes between 2008 and 2012.

Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure is calling on drivers to stay focused on the road.

“You’re four times more likely to crash when talking on a hand-held phone behind the wheel, and 23 times more likely to get in a crash if you text while driving,” he said.

In Vancouver, officials launched the campaign in Robson Square, using a driving simulator to demonstrate how dangerous texting and driving can be.

Police are stepping up enforcement across the province and will be checking for distracted drivers throughout September, they warn.

Victoria Chief Constable Jamie Graham said drivers need to think about the possible consequences before picking up the phone on the road.

"How would you feel if you lost a loved one because a driver was on the phone or texting? Think about that the next time you’re tempted to reach for the phone behind the wheel," he said.

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