If you’re in the habit of texting and driving, be warned: police will be looking for you.
That’s because New Glasgow Regional Police are making distracted driving a priority in 2018 in a bid to prevent injuries and deaths on the roads.
“The statistics throughout the country and throughout North America show an increase in distracted driving behaviours. They also reflect in Pictou County,” said Const. Ken MacDonald.
He added that the rates of distracted driving are now on a par with impaired driving and will likely keep increasing thanks to people using smartphones to call or text while on the road.
If caught using a cellphone without a hands-free device, first-time offenders face a fine of $237.50.
The only exception to this rule is the use of cellphones to call 911 to report drunk drivers or other criminal offences witnessed while driving, which can be done without a hands-free set.
Other forms of distracted driving include reading, eating and having a pet on one’s lap while on the road.
MacDonald said that the key to reducing cellphone use and other types of distracted driving include both enforcement and education.
But drivers who persist in using cellphones and endangering other road users should beware: there is a movement afoot to make it a criminal offence just like drunk driving.
“There is a movement in parts of the country with specific advocates lobbying to make it a criminal offence,” said MacDonald.
But preventing death, injury and court convictions is simple: drivers should always keep both hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.
The renewed push by New Glasgow Regional Police against distracted driving comes as part of a broader focus on road safety.
This includes tackling speeding, driving under the influence and safety at intersections, for example, by obeying stop signs.