Distracted driving poses a significant risk for workers

VANCOUVER, Sept. 22, 2011 /CNW/ - The province, police, ICBC and WorkSafeBC are reminding drivers of the dangers of distracted driving, focusing on raising awareness among employers and their staff, as part of September's distracted driving campaign.

In B.C., crashes are the number one cause of work-related deaths, according to WorkSafeBC statistics. On average, approximately 30 workers in B.C. are killed each year while driving, and distracted driving, such as cellphone use, is a key factor in these crashes.

"As government, we have established aggressive legislation and police have done a good job of enforcement but really this is about your friends, family and colleagues, so set an example," said Shirley Bond, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. "We know these deaths and injuries are preventable. Let voicemail do its job or pull over. Safe driving requires your full attention."

A recent Ipsos Reid survey conducted on behalf of ICBC revealed that only 9 per cent of drivers think that commercial drivers are better than the general public at following B.C.'s new restrictions on the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving.

"Workers and employers in B.C. need to take steps to eliminate any risks or distractions and consider that when you're behind the wheel, driving is your only job," said Diana Miles, senior vice president of worker and employer services, WorkSafeBC.

To help workers and employers, new materials are now available to download on WorkSafeBC.com, including a sample safe driving policy, tip sheets for employers, supervisors and workers, as well as a new video to help drive home the message even further.

"We need to shift our attitudes toward distracted driving - we can all do our part to help create a culture where friends, families and colleagues don't expect you to answer the phone while driving," said Fiona Temple, director of road safety, ICBC.

"A distracted driver is not only committing a traffic offence, they are being selfish and stupid," said Chief Jamie Graham, Traffic Committee Chair, British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police. "That's why police have been blanketing the province targeting and charging the people who just don't get it. You have to be responsible for your actions, pay attention and focus on driving - you will help prevent a tragedy."

For more tips on cellphone use while driving, and to see the new preventable.ca TV ad on distracted driving, go to drivecellsafe.ca.

Note: Video and photos of the event will be posted to the icbc.com newsroom (http://www.icbc.com/news/2011sep22-06) later today.

SOURCE ICBC

For further information:

Media contacts:  Lindsay Olsen, ICBC Media Relations, 604-982-4759
Heather Young, WorkSafeBC Public Affairs, 604-241-5441

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