Students warned against distracted driving

Emma Childs
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Minister Robert Vessey, left, and Amanda Dean, vice president Atlantic Insurance Bureau of Canada, were promoting the Leave the Phone Alone campaign. Islanders are encouraged to pledge not use their mobile devices while driving.

In 2013, 215 people were fined for using handheld devices, down from 258 the year before

"No phone call or text is worth risking your life or someone else's," Transportation and Infrastructure Minster Robert Vessey said to a cafeteria full of students at Charlottetown Rural High School.

Vessey and a team of speakers showed up to the school Monday to promote safe driving and discourage the use of cellphones behind the wheel.

This is the second year of the "Leave the Phone Alone" campaign on P.E.I., where a team of advocates including Vessey, radio hosts from Hot 105.5 and Amanda Dean, vice-president of the Insurance Board of Atlantic Canada, are making their way across the province to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

Last year's campaign saw 4,500 students sign an online pledge promising not to use a mobile device while driving.

"Community-based initiatives are often the most effective, and it is clear that communities throughout this province have taken ownership of this program," said Dean.

"It's hard to believe, but just a short time ago we were having similar conversations around wearing a seatbelt and the perils of drinking and driving," she said, pointing out that the delay in a distracted driver's reaction time is equivalent to that of a driver with an blood alcohol level of 0.08.

Dean also said that drivers who text behind the wheel are 23 times more likely to crash than those who don't.

Driving while using a mobile device was made illegal across the province in 2010. Penalties for those caught doing so can result in a $400 fine with three demerit points.

Dean said that since the campaign was launched in 2013, there has been a 17 per cent decrease in convictions of distracted driving, falling to 215 from 258 the year before.

"If you absolutely need to call or respond to someone, do it when you're safely pulled over off the road," Vessey advised. "It's not the end of the world if you have to wait a few seconds to pull over. Not waiting could mean the end of the world for someone you may love."

Organizations: Charlottetown Rural High School.Vessey, Insurance Board of Atlantic Canada

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Recent comments

  • ralph
    March 25, 2014 - 08:46

    Vessey should take a look at his own people i see lots of government snow plow drivers going up and down the road with one stuck to there ear.

  • HalfWayThere
    March 25, 2014 - 06:16

    In my honest opinion, it seems to be working. I've noticed less younger drivers texting or talking on their phones while driving. That being said, I've seen more older drivers with a phone stuck to their ear while driving. Getting the message out to the younger drivers is a great project and will hopefully help to avoid senseless collisions and fatalities. I applaud these efforts. If only the message could somehow get out to the older drivers. And, just for the record, I'm an older driver and I refuse to even look at my phone while driving.

  • Alex
    March 25, 2014 - 06:14

    I believe the same law should apply to police officers as they do to the general public, they are no different then anyone else. Just last year a police officer here in Charlottrtown rearended an other driver on University Avenue.

  • David
    March 25, 2014 - 03:16

    Technology exists to totally end this problem so are we not mandating the installation of phone and Wi-Fi jammers installed in all cars and are active when the car is in motion. For $5 per car every car could be equipped with one of these jammers. For something as simple as this why not spend the millions they spend of advertising and simply install these devices in all new cars starting in 2015. It just seems totally asinine that the government doesn't mandate these devices.

  • Rebecca
    March 24, 2014 - 20:58

    I agree with this, but not only students need to be taught/told to leave the phone alone. As I was walking today, a city police officer in a marked vehicle drove past me chatting on a cell phone. Don't say one thing and do another!

  • Island Driver
    March 24, 2014 - 16:58

    Since the police are not everywhere all the time, comparing the number of fines may not be a true picture of the program being a success or not. If I was able to hand out a fine everytime I saw a person talking on the phone or texting when driving then number of fines would be significantly higher. The fine and demerit points need to be much higher and comparable to DUI, including suspension of licenses..