New highway signs will alert motorists of rest stops where wi-fi is available.

New highway signs will alert motorists of rest stops where wi-fi is available.

Free wi-fi to be available at some B.C. rest stops

The move is part of the Ministry of Transportation's efforts to stop people from using their phones while driving.

Free public wi-fi service will soon be rolled out to five highway rest stops throughout the province; and the Ministry of Transportation says that a further 20 rest stops will follow. The move is being made possible by a partnership between the province, Telus, and ICBC.

The closest one to the area is the Britton Creek rest stop, 67km south of Merritt. ICBC CEO Mark Blucher says that the new service is meant to encourage drivers to pull over, rather than try to use their phones to text or call while driving. New highway signage will include the wi-fi symbol and will alert drivers to a “text stop ahead”.

Blucher notes that there are more than 800 car crashes throughout B.C. every day, many of them caused by distracted driving, which is now one of the top three causes of vehicle accidents.

The five wi-fi stops will be in place by the spring of 2017, with no timetable yet for the other 20. The plan is part of the government’s $9 million in funding over three years to improve the safety, comfort, and convenience of rest areas throughout the province.

“Our rest areas are critical to the tourism industry, as well as the commercial trucking sector by allowing drivers to rest and access washroom facilities,” says Transportation Minister Todd Stone. “These improvements, along with the addition of wi-fi, will be a key part of ensuring we deliver a competitive, world-class travel experience to visitors.”