Drivers admit to using phones more during pandemic: ICBC

RICHMOND — A new study has found that B.C. drivers are using their phone more while on the road during the pandemic, according to ICBC.

The Ipsos Reid survey, conducted for ICBC in May, found that while 93 per cent of drivers believe texting while driving is risky, 40 per cent admitted they still use their phones at least one out of every 10 trips.

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This month, police across the province are ramping up enforcement of distracted driving, and community volunteers will be setting up “Cell Watch” stations to remind drivers to leave their phones alone.

More than one in four fatal crashes in the province involve distracted driving, according to ICBC.

Police data from 2016 to 2020 shows that, on average, 25 people in the Lower Mainland are killed in distracted driving-related crashes every year.

While speeding is considered the leading factor in traffic deaths in B.C., distracted driving follows in second place and impaired driving in third.

Distracted driving is also the top contributing factor in police-reported injury crashes, ICBC said.

Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general, said in a statement that the responsibility for safe driving lies with the driver.

“There is no excuse for distracted driving, no reason to check our phones that outweighs the safety and well-being of British Columbians,” he said.

“We need to prioritize safety over convenience when driving and that’s why police across B.C. are supporting ICBC in seeking distracted drivers this month.”

Neil Dubord, chairman of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police traffic safety committee, echoed Farnworth’s concerns and said distracted driving is preventable.

“There is no call, text or GPS adjustment that is worth the senseless injuries and deaths caused each year by inattentive driving,” he said.

Meanwhile, a recent U.S. study found that one in four drivers think roads are safer today than before the pandemic.

However, a growing number of respondents reported they still use their mobile devices while driving, which included texting, emailing, checking social media, taking videos and photos and even shopping online.

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