Preventable launches new campaign against distracted driving


A partnership with Eagle Ridge Hospital to prevent future accidents

By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor

The Eagle Ridge Hospital Foundation in Port Coquitlam is partnering with the Community Against Preventable Injuries (known widely as Preventable) in an effort to reduce the number of accidents that occur as a result of distracted driving.

For Dr. Mike Mostrenko, a doctor at Eagle Ridge Hospital with 19 years’ experience, raising awareness for distracted driving comes not only from tending to patients involved in distracted driving accidents, but also from being in one of these accidents himself—ironically, on his way to work a shift at the Royal Columbian Hospital.

Monstrenko is currently the Head of Emergency at the hospital, as well as being a director with the Eagle Ridge Hospital Foundation for the past five years.

“I was in a motor vehicle crash that was the result of a distracted driver on the phone,” recounts Monstrenko. “The worst part of it is that she was so close to home when the crash occurred that her boyfriend arrived at the scene before any emergency personnel did because he heard the crash on the phone… She must have been no more than a block or two from home… It seemed so unnecessary that the discussion would have had to happen two blocks from home and result in her injuries and mine.”

According to a press release by Preventable, 88 deaths are caused in BC every year as a result of distracted driving—more than those killed in drunk-driving accidents. The release also points out that texting for five seconds (at highway speed) is similar to driving the length of a football field blindfolded.

Monstrenko is urging students to think critically in “the age of the smartphone,” and asks all drivers to think twice about immediately responding to a text or a call while driving.

“Distracted driving is not just talking on a cell phone, texting, or eating,” Preventable spokesperson Dr. Ian Pike said in a press release. “It includes allowing your attention to wander to things away from the road. These distractions can have devastating results, and are completely avoidable if you have a word with yourself.”

Monstrenko adds that distracted driving can still happen if the driver doesn’t touch their cell phone or perform a task other than driving. He explains that roadside advertising and billboards can be distracting as well, and criticizes local municipalities.

“I think it’s really a matter for municipalities to recognize these things, and perhaps create some safe guards within… city council. Just try to discourage these sorts of things [roadside advertising] from happening… I think municipalities should be aware of this and should see the warning signs.”

Driving on the defensive is encouraged, and Monstrenko suggests that all drivers be precautious on the road, and contact local authorities should distracted driving be witnessed.