Wireless Internet hotspots added

The province and Telus are installing free public wireless capability at five highway rest stops throughout the province.

The province and Telus are installing free public wireless capability at five highway rest stops throughout the province, with another 20 wifi sites to come.

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia is also part of the project.

Mark Blucher, chief executive officer of ICBC, said the service is to encourage drivers to pull over rather than risk using their phones and mobile devices when driving.

“More than 800 crashes occur every day in B.C., many of these caused by distracted driving,” Blucher said.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said the ministry has  $9 million to improve service and comfort at highway rest areas.

While none of the five stops are in the Okanagan Valley, Summerland already has a highway pullout with wireless Internet access.

The stop, near Trout Creek, received wireless access in the fall of 2012 as the result of a Summerland Chamber of Commerce initiative.

“We were the first in the province,” said Christine Petkau, executive director of the chamber. “It was a novel concept at that time.”

She said the service was an important safety initiative.

She added that the wireless service also provides travellers with information about businesses and services within the community.

Those accessing the wifi site in Summerland are directed to a gateway page, with links to visitor services.