Victoria targets distracted drivers with hefty penalties

By on November 6, 2017
Fines are going up for distracted drivers in B.C. (Herald photo illustration).

By: Kamloops This Week

Distracted drivers are facing higher penalties in British Columbia.

The provincial government wants to designate distracted driving as a high-risk behaviour under the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s driver risk premium program.

That means a driver with two tickets for distracted driving over a three-year period will see their total financial penalties rise to as much as $2,000, an increase of $740 over existing penalties.

The changes will take effect March 1.

The government said the penalties are separate from vehicle insurance premiums charged by ICBC and will be levied even if an individual does not own or insure a vehicle.

The government said distracted driving is a factor in more than 25 per cent of all car crash fatalities in B.C., killing an average of 78 people each year.

Currently, there are about 12,000 drivers in British Columbia that have multiple distracted-driving offences over a three-year period.

When fully implemented, the changes will result in about $3 million to $5 million in additional premiums collected annually, which will be used to offset ICBC’s overall basic insurance rate pressures.

“B.C. already has some of the toughest distracted-driving penalties in Canada and these changes make our rules even tougher,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. “In the continuing fight against distracted driving, even a single death is one too many.”

Paula Pepin was injured in a serious crash caused by a distracted driver.

“It is mind-boggling to see that people still believe that picking up their phone, for even a split second, while driving is safe. Two seconds of looking at your screen is all it takes to cross the lane into oncoming traffic,” she said.

“Distracted driving through the use of mobile devices has become a widespread issue and more must be done to change people’s behaviour. This is a step in the right direction, and hopefully, the start of a broader cultural shift around this issue.”

Attorney General David Eby said the changes will treat distracted driving as a serious high-risk behaviour.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *