Drivers using their cellphones at the wheel still appears to be a common occurrence, despite laws in place to deter it. The latest stats from Regina police seem to back that assertion up.
Stats from August show there have been 732 cellphone charges so far in 2017 compared to 426 incidents from the same period in 2016.
That’s a jump of 71.8 per cent year-to-date.
“We hear from the public on a regular basis whether it be phone calls, emails, whatever, that they’re concerned about distracted driving,” said police Chief Evan Bray. “It’s a problem in our community.”
Bray said he believes the figures don’t necessarily suggest an increase in the public’s use while driving, but rather an increase in officers holding those drivers accountable. He said when charges go up it reflects the officer’s efforts.
“We’ve really stepped up our enforcement,” he said. “Enforcement’s not the only answer, but we’ve definitely stepped it up to try and send a message that we don’t want people using their cell phones while they’re driving.”
Cellphones have become so ingrained in society that, naturally, it spills onto the road in what the chief called an “automatic, involuntary response.” He said they need to break people from that habit. However, he realizes that’s not going to happen overnight.
“The young people in our community, and when I say young I’m talking about people that aren’t even yet of driving change, I think they get it and I think that we’re going to see a generation of change coming,” Bray explained, adding officers are anecdotally being told eight-year-olds are the voice of reason, having to tell their parents they shouldn’t be using their phones at the wheel.
“It is going to take a while to get there and in the meantime we can’t just neglect the problem.”