One day, 100 distracted-driving tickets in Greater Victoria

Police estimate at least 100 tickets were issued to drivers caught texting or talking on cellphones, on a day when rain created slippery road conditions.

It was part of a distracted-driving blitz Thursday conducted by the Integrated Road Safety Unit and Victoria and Saanich police.

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About 40 tickets were given to drivers around the intersection of Quadra Street and McKenzie Avenue, which is a high-crash zone, Saanich police spokesman Jereme Leslie said.

“Some people are just completely open and they’re sitting there with the phone right to their ear. And others are sitting there looking at their laps, and it’s clearly evident they’ve got their cellphone,” Leslie said.

“When our officers walk up and look in the window, they’re completely oblivious to what’s happening around them, not knowing that a police officer is right outside their window and they’re looking down at their phone.”

Both Saanich and Victoria police tweeted about the crackdown Thursday morning, so Leslie said the message was out there for drivers to put down their phones.

Victoria police spokesman Const. Matt Rutherford said he caught one driver texting at a stop light.

The driver said it was an important message.

But that excuse wasn’t enough to avoid a $368 ticket and four demerit points.

“It’s slippery out, and especially on a days like [Thursday], people need to be paying attention to the roads and not worry about their phones,” Rutherford said.

ICBC has partnered with police departments across B.C. to raise awareness during distracted-driving month.

According to an Ipsos Reid survey conducted for ICBC, almost all drivers believe distracted driving has led to an increase in crashes. Yet nearly 40 per cent admit to continuing to use their phone at least some of the time while driving.

It’s estimated that distracted driving is a factor in more than one quarter of all crash fatalities in B.C., killing an average of 78 people every year.

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