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RCMP send message with cellphone blitz

Surrey RCMP conducted a crackdown on distracted driving Monday at King George Boulevard and 88 Avenue. - Evan Seal / The Leader
Surrey RCMP conducted a crackdown on distracted driving Monday at King George Boulevard and 88 Avenue.
— image credit: Evan Seal / The Leader

Police were hoping to kiss distracted driving good-bye with a Valentine's Day blitz on people using their hand-held cellphones while driving.

In the pouring rain Monday, a man stood at the corner of 88 Avenue and King George Boulevard, waiting to cross.

A red sedan passes, and the pedestrian relays the car colour and model to other police officers waiting up the street.

That car, and several others, are pulled into the Surrey Arts Centre. The drivers have been spotted talking on a hand-held cellphone, which has been banned in this province.

Those found guilty – and there were 32,000 last year – receive a $167-ticket and three penalty points on their insurance.

Police express surprise that the hefty fine and points haven't acted as deterrent.

In the Lower Mainland, the number of tickets handed out have totalled 1,287. This month alone, police have issued 705 tickets for distracted driving in the Lower Mainland.

Supt. Norm Gaumont, responsible for Traffic Services in the RCMP-policed areas in the Lower Mainland, believes drivers will be getting the message.

"My sense is people know we're out there and it's had an impact on their behaviour," Gaumont said in a release. "We definitely haven't backed off. Our guys are kicking the daylights out of this. At this pace, were on track to write more than twice as many tickets than we did in January."

Gaumont said the people he sees that continue to break the cellphone ban are usually 25 years old or younger.

According to the RCMP, distracted driving was a contributing factor in 48 per cent of all traffic fatalities in the Lower Mainland last year.

kdiakiw@surreyleader.com

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