Tougher penalties for distracted drivers in B.C.

New measures begin this month to combat distracted driving in the province

The Province of B.C. along with ICBC are rolling out tougher penalties for distracted drivers beginning this month, alongside a province-wide blitz today by local law enforcement.

ICBC defines distracted driving as anything that impacts a driver’s ability to focus on the road and is one of the top contributing factors in police-reported injury crashes in B.C. They point to a 2010 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that states electronic device use is the most common distraction that drivers engage in behind the wheel.

“Distracted driving endangers the lives of British Columbians with devastating effects for families and communities,” said Attorney General David Eby.

“It also puts significant pressure on insurance rates. Improving road safety is key to creating a sustainable auto insurance system with more affordable rates for B.C. families. We must see cultural shift that sees distracted drivers put down their cell phones and drive.”

ICBC’s Driver Risk Premium (DRP) program, that also started March 1, will include convictions for distracted drivers who continue to use electronic devices while driving. Those drivers with two convictions over a three year period for using their phones or other electronic devices will also face higher premiums and could pay as much as $2,000 in penalties.

RELATED: B.C. to hike distracted driving penalties by $740

Two other pilot projects are also underway, exploring how technology can help combat distracted driving in the province. ICBC is working with 139 volunteer drivers on a three-month pilot about their experience with a small telematics device installed in their vehicle that blocks the use of their handheld phone while driving.

This month police will also begin testing new telescopes used to catch distracted drivers and other dangerous driving activity. The units will be tested for usability and effectiveness in all weather and traffic conditions.

RELATED: ICBC tests distracted driving prevention technology

“Since 2010, police have issued more than 300,000 tickets for electronic device use, which tells us that distracted and inattentive driving continues to be an ongoing issue on B.C. roads,” said Davis Wendell, officer in charge of E Division Traffic Services.

“In fact, police report that driver distraction and inattention is the leading contributing factor in injury crashes in B.C. And those are all preventable incidents. While driving, there’s no task more important than the one right in front of you – leave all distractions out of driving.”

Police data released by ICBC between for the period between 2012 and 2016 show dozens of people are killed each year by distracted driving. This data includes situations where one or more vehicles involved had contributing factors including use of communication/video equipment, driver inattentive and driver internal/external distraction:

  • Every year, on average, 27 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland
  • Every year, on average, 9 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes on Vancouver Island
  • Every year, on average, 30 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Southern Interior
  • Every year, on average, 13 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the North Central region

Cellphone related fatalities

While the number of distracted driving-related deaths remain high, there is mixed agreement with how cellphones affect the numbers.

Acumen Law Corporation announced earlier this year that statistics obtained from the BC Coroners Service only show 14 fatalities between 2008 and 2016 due to drivers using an electronic device.

“Thousands if not tens of thousands of electronic device tickets have been served across Vancouver Island, yet there hasn’t been a single traffic fatality in nearly a decade due to drivers using electronic devices,” said Acumen Law Corporation lawyer Sacha Roudette.

“We are very concerned that the government has misled the public and cast an overly wide net based on inadequate data that results in serious consequences for drivers. I am aware of many cases where drivers who received tickets lost their jobs as a result.”

Statistics from the BC Coroners Service were obtained via a freedom of information request and were backed up by a former traffic cop with the West Vancouver Police Department.

“I spent many years in traffic between 1995 and 2017. In that 22-year span, the amount of collisions I attended that was a direct result of use of a cellphone was one, and it didn’t even result in an injury,” said Cpl. Grant Gottgetreu of the statistics.



ragnar.haagen@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Port Alberni Black Sheep win match against Island rivals

Black Sheep squared off against the Nanaimo Hornets for TC Cup action

11th annual Magic Cottage kicks off this weekend in Port Alberni

Cottage will be open over two weekends in November

Port Alberni RCMP hold second bike registration event

Project 529 will be at Canadian Tire on Saturday, Nov. 17

Husky Gas Station robbed on Third Avenue

Port Alberni RCMP still searching for suspect

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

Most Read