Photo ICBC

Distracted driving is now killing more people than impaired driving in some provinces.

Despite an increase in fines, penalty points, and numerous campaigns stating the dangers of not giving the road full attention, distracted driving persists.

So Victoria police came up with a different approach, and partnered with Restorative Justice Victoria, ICBC, RoadSafetyBC, and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation to deliver an interactive distracted driving seminar.

Restorative justice: 3-hour seminar instead of fine for first time offenders

First time offenders will now be able to attend a 3-hour restorative justice seminar, instead of paying the roughly $500 fine. The idea is to offer each offender the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions, while being informed of how much damage distracted driving has done.

The seminar is both hard hitting and informative.

“People don’t really appreciate the carnage that’s going on out there,” Retired Surrey Fire Service Captain Tim Baillie said. “Distracted driving can destroy families, [and it] can destroy people that are protecting us, like the police, or the fire fighters and ambulance.”

Early results are encouraging

VicPd embarked on a 2-day distracted driving enforcement campaign, and issued 42 tickets. Of the 42 offenders, 32 elected to attend the seminar.

“It’s hard to feel the change in the room without being there,” Communications Coordinator Bowen Osoko said on reddit, “but the seminar appeared, to myself at least, to have an initial effect on many participants.”

“The Traffic Injury Research Foundation did a post-seminar survey which showed that a large majority of at least felt as though they would change their behaviour.” he continued. “We’ll follow up in several months’ time to see if it has had an overall change.”

According to the B.C. Government, distracted driving kills an average of 78 people each year in British Columbia.

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