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Don't make a call or text while driving

THE HIGHWAY patrol, also known as West Pacific Region Traffic Services, is watching for distracted drivers in February and ticket fines are hefty if you get caught not giving your full attention to your driving.

Drivers who operate vehicles while using a handheld device will be targeted and the fine is $167.

Those who break other rules of the road while using a handheld device may be charged with driving without due care and attention, which has a fine of $368.

Offences that put others at risk include speeding, unsafe lane changes, following too closely and failing to obey traffic lights and signs. Police are not required to prove that a call was in progress.

Graduated License Program drivers (L and N drivers) are not permitted the use of any electronic devices, including hands free devices.

"A hands-free device is not holding a cell phone in your hand on speaker phone," said Sgt. Pamela Scott, non-commissioned officer in charge West Pacific Region Traffic Services.

"A hands-free device is a device that is mounted to your vehicle or secured on your person and is operated by one touch."

Since the legislation banning the use of handheld devices began in January 2010, police in B.C. have issued 63,348 violation tickets for use of handheld electronic devices.

And preliminary statistics for 2012 indicate distracted driving was a contributing factor in 30 per cent of fatalities and 37 per cent of serious injuries.

Driving is a complex task that requires full attention: a driver is four times more likely to crash when talking on a handheld mobile phone while driving, and 23 times more likely to get in a crash if texting while driving.

"At the end of the day we want everyone to arrive home safely, if your call is that important, please pull over," said Scott.

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