July, 2010 – It’s been five months since B.C. implemented the ban on using a hand-held cellphone while driving and police have issued more than 8,000 tickets. But despite the danger and the fines, people are still choosing to break the law.
ICBC asked police across B.C. to share drivers’ top excuses for using a hand-held cellphone while driving:
- It was an urgent work call! A real emergency would be if your car were flipped over in a ditch because you weren’t focused on the road. Let callers know on your voicemail that you may be driving and there may be delay before you return their call.
- But I was stopped at a red light. Let’s put a stop to this misconception right now: the rules apply even if you are stopped at a light.
- I was just checking my voicemail – I didn’t make a call. Under the new law, drivers can’t use hand-held electronics while driving. Let voicemail do its job – call back later when it’s safe to do so. Better yet, turn your cellphone off or put it in the trunk to avoid the temptation to pick it up.
- Driver: But I have it on hands-free! Police officer: Sir, it’s not hands-free if it’s in your hand. Hands-free doesn’t equal speakerphone. Under the new law, a driver cannot use a hand-held electronic communication device and this includes hand-held cellphones, iPods and other electronic hand-held devices.
- But it was my mom calling! In order to help our drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) become safe drivers for life, they are banned from using all phone and electronic devices, including hands-free. The only time a GLP driver is permitted to use a phone or electronic device in a car is if they’re safely parked and off the roadway or are making an emergency call to 9-1-1. So parents, do your teenagers a favour and don’t call when you know they’ll be driving.
- I didn’t know I’m not from here. I’m from Maple Ridge. Wow – police really do hear it all! According to an Ipsos-Reid poll done in January 2010, 98 per cent of British Columbians are aware of the new law. And FYI, the law applies to the whole province.
- I drive better than most people – not like the ones that eat while driving. Anything that takes your attention from the road is dangerous. Studies show that drivers who talk on a cellphone lose about 50 per cent visually of what’s going on around them and are four times more likely to get into a crash.
- I was just setting up my hands-free device. You’ll probably do a better job of setting up your hands-free (or eating, or applying makeup) when your car is parked and not moving. Make sure that you’re ready for your trip before you start driving.
- But it’s my first time. Can’t I just get a warning? Police didn’t start handing out tickets until a month after the ban went into effect – that’s more than enough time to get the message. Consider your $167 fine and three-point penalty your warning, so make that first time your last.
- It was my wife calling and I didn’t dare ignore her. Would she rather hear that you’ve crashed the car and you, or someone else, is hurt because you were distracted by her call? Pull over before you answer or return a call. Your life, and the lives of people around you, are much more important than your phone call – even if it’s someone you love on the phone.
If you find yourself making similar excuses, think about the influence your smart driving decisions can have on others. They can help create a culture where friends, family and colleagues don’t expect you to pick up right away.
For more information on the new law and smart driving tips, visit drivecellsafe.ca.
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia is a provincial Crown corporation established in 1973 to provide universal auto insurance to B.C. motorists. www.icbc.com.