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Richmond RCMP warns drivers to leave phones alone

Nearly a dozen distracted driving tickets were given in one day.

Despite a giant board saying “police ahead,” many motorists were still caught using their phones while driving in Richmond.

Richmond RCMP conducted an outreach project near Westminster Highway and Buswell Street as part of ICBC’s month-long campaign against distracted driving on Wednesday, March 9.

During the project, a giant electronic board saying “Police Ahead. Stay Off Phone” was placed in the middle of the road to remind drivers to stay off their phones.

However, even with the sign in plain sight, volunteers and members with the traffic and crime prevention units handed out nearly a dozen violation tickets and written warnings for cell phone use.

“The warning signs couldn’t be more obvious, and yet some people still aren’t getting the message,” said Cpl. Ian Henderson, spokesperson for the Richmond RCMP, in a media statement.

According to ICBC reports, 78 people die each year due to collisions related to distracted driving in B.C. while an average of 25 deaths are reported in the Lower Mainland.

Police in Richmond, said Henderson, and around the province are trying to crack down on distracted drivers because distracted and inattentive driving is responsible for more than one-quarter of all crash fatalities.

Local ICBC road safety coordinator Harvey Kooner said it takes short glances away from the road to increase the risk of crashing.

“Make sure you have everything you need before hitting the road,” said Kooner.

“Staying focused when you drive should be your top priority. Leave your phone alone.”