If you ignore cellphone laws like you ignore panhandlers at stoplights, we have some bad news.
The man holding a tattered piece of cardboard at the side of the road could be a genuine Mountie. And the print on his sign might read: “Hello. My name is Constable Martell. If you’re on your cell phone right now, you are about to get a ticket.”
Constable Bryan Martell donned hoodie and three-day beard one Saturday in March in a marvelously passive-aggressive effort to enforce the province’s distracted-driving law. Around the corner was a partner with a citation book in hand. Chilliwack, B.C., police reported 21 tickets and numerous warnings issued in just four hours.
A fellow officer snapped the photo above, which quickly went viral.
“I think people found the humor in it partly, so they were less angry than they usually are getting a ticket," Martell told the Chilliwack Times. "A lot of people laughed about it and said 'You caught me, I was doing it, I shouldn't do it.' "
Do as we say ...
The move follows a blitz last month in nearby Vancouver, where officers wrote 4,449 tickets in February, nearly double January’s total. And where, it should be noted, Vancouver Deputy Police Chief Warren Lemcke on March 14 crashed his police cruiser into the rear of another car on a busy highway as he checked his phone.
British Columbia drivers convicted of using a cellphone while driving face a fine of $168 and up to three points on their licenses if caught texting or e-mailing.
Although safety experts in the U.S. have advised an outright ban on all electronic devices, what exists now is a 50-state patchwork of laws and penalties. (See “Cellphone tickets and your car insurance.”) Typically, though, they don’t affect your car insurance rates unless they’re considered moving violations.