RCMP cracks down on distracted driving

It took only a few hours Wednesday and Thursday for RCMP officers to nab 24 drivers for allegedly using electronic devices behind the wheel.

It took only a few hours Wednesday and Thursday for RCMP officers to nab 24 drivers for allegedly using electronic devices behind the wheel.

A plainclothes officer was stationed near intersections in downtown Whitehorse to watch for drivers breaking the law by texting or using their phones while driving.

The officer radioed ahead to uniformed officers who were able to issue the tickets.

In the Yukon the fine for being caught using an electronic device while operating a motor vehicle is $287 dollars, and four points on your driver’s licence.

“The vast majority really understand and appreciate what we’re doing,” said RCMP Traffic Services’s Cpl. Shawn Pollard.

“I’ve found that, with the cell phone things from day one, that people realize it’s a bad thing to do and they totally get it when they get a ticket.”

But others don’t see the issue. They claim that using a phone is not an issue when you are stopped at a light or stop sign.

Using an electronic device is dangerous any time you are behind the wheel, whether you’ve stopped at a light or not, Pollard said.

“Driving takes your full comprehension and attention to see what’s going on. Things change in a split second, what’s happening in front of you.”

The Yukon law came into effect in 2011.

The Yukon Motor Vehicle Act defines an electronic device as a cellular telephone or other device with a telephone function, and any device that can transmit or receive electronic mail or other text-based messages.

Even with the threat of a ticket, Pollard said police still witness drivers “staring down at their lap driving down the highway.”

According to a national campaign by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to cause injury.

That same organization says a study found that in 80 per cent of collisions, the driver had looked away from the road three seconds prior to the crash.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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