ICBC and police remind drivers to "take a break" from their phone

September 06, 2018

Burnaby Cell Watch police

In a recent Ipsos Reid survey conducted for ICBC, almost all drivers recognized that distracted driving has led to an increase in crashes and that phone use, especially texting, while driving was risky. However, over one third admitted to using their phone at least one out of every ten trips.

Approximately 960 crashes occur every day in B.C., many of these caused by distracted or inattentive driving.

This month, drivers will be hearing one united message – take a break from your phone when you're behind the wheel.

Police across B.C. are ramping up distracted driving enforcement in September, and community volunteers are conducting Cell Watch deployments to remind drivers to take a break from their phone when driving.

The campaign will feature new TV and radio advertising, as well as digital and social media.

Free 'not while driving' decals are available at ICBC driver licensing offices and participating Autoplan broker offices for drivers to show their support and encourage other road users to follow their example.

Distracted driving is the second leading contributing factor in traffic fatalities, behind speed and ahead of impaired driving, and contributes to more than one in four deaths on B.C. roads.

You can view tips and statistics in an infographic at


Police Chief Neil Dubord, Chair B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee

"The law is clear: you must leave your phone alone when operating a vehicle. This includes when you're stopped at a light or in heavy traffic. Police will be out in full force this month reminding you to put your phone away when you're behind the wheel."

Dr. Ian Pike, Executive Director, Preventable

"It's impossible to multi-task while driving without greatly increasing your chance of crashing. It takes about 4.6 seconds to send a text message – that's like driving with your eyes closed for an entire city block. The majority of all injuries are predictable and preventable, and this is especially true with distracted driving. Leave your phone alone!"

Lindsay Matthews, ICBC's interim vice-president responsible for road safety

"Studies show drivers who are talking on their phone lose about 50 per cent of what's going on around them, so you're less likely to

see cyclists and pedestrians when you're distracted. It's time we all commit to taking a break from our phones and devote our attention to driving smart."

Regional statistics*:                

Every year, on average, 27 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland.

Every year, on average, nine people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes on Vancouver Island.

Every year, on average, 30 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Southern Interior.

Every year, on average, 13 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the North Central region.

*Police data from 2012 to 2016. Distraction: where one or more of the vehicles involved had contributing factors including use of communication/video equipment, driver inattentive and driver internal/external distraction.

Media contact:

Lindsay Wilkins