Statistics from local speed watch deployments in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area show that more people are getting the message when it comes to using cellphones while driving. — File Photo

Parksville-area watchdogs say drivers getting message on cell use

Other distracted driving habits still a problem

Data from Oceanside Community Safety Volunteer activities show that drivers are getting the message when it comes to cellphone-use and driving.

Yet drivers don’t yet seem to have made the link between distracted driving and eating, or having a pet in your lap, for instance. With new data from OCSV deployments at Rathtrevor Provincial Park, Highway 4A in Coombs, and Corfield Street and Despard Avenue in July, The NEWS spoke with programs administrator Mike Garland to get a sense of the numbers.

For the Rathtrevor deployment, out of 346 vehicles observed, 18 were going more than 10 km/h over the speed limit (in a 30-km/h zone). The max speed observed was 51 km/h. One driver was observed talking, while nine were engaging in other distractions.

In Coombs, of the 1,520 vehicles observed, 104 we going more than 10 km/h over the speed limit (in a 50-km/h zone). The max speed observed was 78 km/h, while two drivers were observed talking on their phone, with 24 distracted by something else.

At Corfield and Despard, of 212 vehicles, 17 went more than 10 km/h over the speed limit (in a 50-km/h zone). The max speed was 74 km/h, with noone distracted.

“I think the one (statistical change) that we’re noticing is that, the message for distracted driving with cellphones… they’re not using them as much now,” said Garland.

“(The numbers) are starting to dip a wee bit over the last two years, so it’s all about education. When we do a setup… we remind motorists what the posted speed limit is, we have our speed reader board, and a lot of deployments will actually put out ‘put your cellphone away’ as a reminder to motorists that you shouldn’t be on your phone when you’re driving… The whole idea about education is to try to get as many messages out there while we can.”

Garland likened it to drunk driving, saying that there are fewer drinking and driving infractions compared to 10 years ago.

However, he said the distracted driving message is being lost when it comes to being distracted by things other than cellphones.

The OCSV stats on other distracted driving includes things such as eating and/or drinking while driving, or have a dog in the driver’s lap.

“One of our pet peeves… is dogs on laps,” said Garland. Not only are they a distraction, but, in the event of a crash, having a pet on the driver’s lap, or unsecured anywhere in the vehicle can be dangerous for the pet and for others in the car, he said.

When it comes to speeding, Garland said there’s often people driving at higher speeds on certain roads in the summer simply because they are not familiar with the area and what the speed limits are.

The drop in speed going up Highway 19A across the orange bridge into Parksville can be unexpected for some motorists because of the increase in lanes.

The idea with the OCSV’s deployments, in addition to providing statistics to the RCMP, municipalities and ICBC, is to make sure drivers know what the speed limit is.

But as summer ends, the OCSV and RCMP are getting ready for any busy traffic season, reminding motorists about reduced speeds near schools.

“The first week, we see a higher degree of motorists exceeding the speed limit until they get acclimatized again that there are kids going to school,” Garland said.

Though statistics show less cellphone use while driving near school zones, that’s different at community recreation facilities.

“Ironically, when you’re outside of Oceanside Place or Ravensong, it’s amazing how many people are on their phone leaving facilities, checking how their kids are or letting the kids know they’re coming to pick them up. So those are the areas… where we see a higher density of cellphone instances.”

To check out more OCSV stats and see what else the group is doing in the community, go to www.oceansidecsv.org.

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