The Abbotsford Police Department might have had a little fun with its April Fools’ Day prank but there’s a serious message behind it.
The APD posted a video yesterday to introduce its new “distracted driving unit.”
The video depicts the unit “in training” at a hockey rink, with a player then leaving the rink to target distracted drivers and pedestrians on the street with the message, “Eyes up!”
“This unit and its unique methods will be enforcing legislation and reminding our citizens to keep their eyes up and aware of their surroundings,” stated an APD press release issued on Sunday.
But behind the fun is a reminder that distracted driving continues to be a problem, increasing the risk of pedestrian or drivers being injured in an accident.
The APD states that distracted driving isn’t limited to just the use of cellphones. Other distractions include eating, drinking, smoking, applying makeup, searching through your wallet or turning knobs on your vehicle.
Visual distractions cause your eyes to wander off the road. Examples include taking in the view, looking at a map or GPS device, or reading a book. (“Yes, we’ve seen seen it happen!” the APD release states.)
The APD says cognitive distractions cause your focus to drift away from your driving. Common driving distractions include talking to another passenger, daydreaming, or thinking about something that is upsetting.
The APD offers the follows tips to eliminate or reduce distractions:
When you step into the crosswalk, roadway or parking lot, put your phone down and pay attention; be aware of the vehicles around you when walking where vehicles drive and while crossing the road.
– Look both ways when crossing the road, making eye contact with drivers before you enter intersections.
– Watch for drivers turning corners.
– Obey signals at crosswalks.
– Turn off your phone when you are driving. If you need to make a call, find a safe place and pull over. If turning off your phone is not possible, use your device in hands-free mode, operating it with one-touch commands or voice commands. (Reminder: Make sure your cell hone is securely attached to your vehicle.)
– Make adjustments to your mirrors, seats, GPS and steering wheel before you start driving.
– Stay calm. Stress and anxiety can be a significant distraction.
– Use your passengers – if possible, have them change radio stations, music selections, answer calls, text or adjust temperatures.
The fines for distracted driving range from $368 to $543 for a first offence, and the costs go up with each subsequent offence. Points are applied against your licence, and may affect your insurance costs.