File photo                                 White Rock RCMP Const. Chantal Sears checks for distracted drivers on Marine Drive from the vantage point of a seat on the C361 during last month’s enforcement campaign.

File photo White Rock RCMP Const. Chantal Sears checks for distracted drivers on Marine Drive from the vantage point of a seat on the C361 during last month’s enforcement campaign.

Surrey, White Rock police issue hundreds of distracted-driving tickets

March campaign targeted cellphones and other distractions

Hundreds of drivers in Surrey and White Rock received a firsthand lesson on the financial costs of distracted driving last month.

In Surrey, officers doled out 365 tickets for using an electronic device while behind the wheel, during a month-long campaign that targeted the dangerous habit. Each meant a fine of $368; add the cost of four penalty points to the total and that total climbed to $543.

Sixty-eight such tickets were issued in White Rock.

“I actually got a guy, he was texting, not wearing a seatbelt and was a prohibited driver,” White Rock RCMP Sgt. Joel Glen told Peace Arch News last week, recalling one driver he took off the road during the campaign.

That particular individual now has a court date, and could face criminal charges, Glen added.

Police across the Lower Mainland put an extra focus on distracted driving throughout March in an effort to drive home the importance of paying full attention while behind the wheel.

According to ICBC, distracted driving is the second-leading cause of fatal car crashes in B.C.

In Surrey, a blitz event on March 8 saw officers issue 29 violation tickets in three hours.

In White Rock, tactics employed included having officers ride transit buses to spot motorists who were trying to keep their cellphone use out of sight.

Police also posed as pedestrians at intersections and bus stops, Glen said.

Volunteers were also out and about trying to educate the public on the issue and encourage people to put their phones away while driving.

Glen said a trend for drivers to lower their phones in an attempt to elude detection is particularly concerning, as it takes the driver’s focus off the road even more.

Distracted driving is not just about using electronic devices, he noted.

The same ticket can and has been issued to drivers who do everything from eat and do their makeup, or even read behind the wheel.

Several drivers were handed more than one ticket during last month’s enforcement effort, Glen said.