SURREY, B.C. — March and September are Distracted Driving and Occupant Restraint months for B.C. police officers.

According to a release from BC Highway Patrol, police across the province will conduct “intensified” distracted driving enforcement.

Motor vehicle collisions due to distracted driving are entirely preventable, and BC Highway Patrol is reminding drivers to “keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel.”

Provincial data reportedly states that distracted driving is responsible for over 25 per cent of all car incident fatalities and the second leading cause of fatal collisions in B.C.

Each year, an average of 76 people die in fatal motor vehicle collisions in the province because the driver was distracted.

The release says distracted driving isn’t just using an electronic device but also includes other distractions such as personal grooming, eating or drinking, reading, insecure pets, other passengers, and not knowing your route.

“It all starts with you. Ask yourself if it is worth your life or someone else’s to answer a call, check your email or send that text while you are driving,” said Chief Superintended Holly Turton, Officer in Charge of BC Highway Patrol.

“Please make the right choice when you drive, ignore your phone and drive responsibly, your life may depend on it, and others may depend on you to get to your destination safely.”

Police across the province are reportedly working together with partners in road safety, such as ICBC and RoadSafetyBC, to “step up” distracted driving enforcement.

The fines for distracted driving begin at $368 and 4 penalty points, plus a “Driver Risk Premium” assessed by ICBC.

Additionally, vehicle insurance costs may be affected, and too many points against a licence may lead to a driving prohibition.

BC Highway Patrol says seatbelt compliance is high in B.C., but approximately 51 people are killed annually in collisions that may have been survivable if seatbelts had been worn.

“Occupant restraints” refers to all vehicle occupants, including children who must be secured in approved infant or child seats appropriate to age and height.

Police recommend always buckling up, even for short distances, as seatbelts and airbags work together to protect all vehicle occupants.

The fine for not wearing a seatbelt is $167.

Police are asking all motorists to always wear seatbelts and leave electronic devices alone when driving for everyone’s safety.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca. Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.