For the first time yesterday, chatty Vancouver drivers were ticketed for talking or texting on their cellphones.
A trio of officers near Main Street and East 41st Avenue issued seven $165 tickets within the first hour.
“I did have one truck driver who (claimed he) was unaware he could not hold a device in his hand,” said Const. Gordon Schmidke. “I showed him the legislation that you could not hold anything in your hand while driving.”
Schmidke said if the driver had been caught texting, he would also have lost three demerit points.
The legislation that bans drivers from using hand-held devices — iPods and GPS systems included —came into effect on Jan. 1, but police didn’t start enforcing the law until yesterday.
Const. Wayne Sherris, who was spotting chatty drivers on East 41st Avenue and radioing his colleagues a block away, said if there’s no clear-cut proof drivers were on their phones, they won’t be ticketed.
Despite criticism that the new law is difficult to enforce and won’t make drivers change their habits, Sherris said he’s seen a “major reduction” in the number of people using their cellphones since Jan. 1.
“Having said that, I’ve still seen a lot of close calls where accidents could have occurred,” he said. “(The law) is overdue.”