Today, BC Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced stiffer distracted driving penalties for anyone caught with a phone or device in hand. According to Vancouver Police, 1600 distracted driving tickets were issued in Vancouver in the month of March alone and 260,000 distracted driving tickets from 2010 to 2015. Manjot Hallen, Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer was interviewed today by CKNW, he reports, “We are pleased that the province has taken a tougher stance on distracted driving and we are moving in the right direction, but we also need to collectively move this criminal behaviour to be stigmatized.”
Higher distracted driving penalties in BC
- Starting June 1, first-time offenders will receive the $368 ticket and $175 for four penalty points, for a total of $543.
- Repeat offenders will pay the same $368, but will receive escalating penalty points for each offence within 12 months:
- 2nd offence: $368 + $520 in penalty points = $888
- 5th offence: $368 + $3760 in penalty points = $4,128
- 10th offence: $368 + $14,520 in penalty points = $14,888
- Repeat offenders will also face an automatic licence review, which could result in a driving prohibition of three to 12 months.
- Drivers in the graduated licensing program will have their licences reviewed after a first offence
Distracted driving will become the leader in youth driving deaths
According to ICBC and reported police statistics, 32 youths between the ages of 16 and 21 are killed in BC each year, and 22% of those deaths are attributed to distracted driving. Despite the startling statistics and increased penalties across Canada, people still continue to be distracted by their devices. Warnett Hallen lawyers agree with DIAD founder Karen Bowman and Steve Wallace of Wallace Driving School, that a smart step in the right direction is distracted driving education in the school system. Teaching young drivers to drive responsibly and to create a community of future drivers where distracted driving is viewed like drinking and driving will go a long way to reducing distracted driving.
Keep yourself distraction free while driving in BC
We all know how easy it is to be distracted while driving but keep yourself and others safe and avoid distracted driving. Before you hit the road follow these few safety tips:
- Plan your route accordingly. Look at your map program before you start the car and if you have an in-car GPS, set your route before you depart.
- Put a message on your device to let people know you won’t be answering your phone or texts while you are driving.
- If coordinating to pick up someone, use an app like Find My Friends, so your friends can track your progress to where you will be meet. This works great for mom’s who are picking up children at school.
- Put your devices in the trunk or the glove box and lock it.
- Designate a designated texter.
Linda Steele from CKNW interviewed Tim Bailie, retired Surrey Fire Chief and advocate for Drop It And Drive. He reports, “We are encouraged by the incremental increases in fines and penalties. We are hoping that this will help, but the reality is people are so self-entitled and just don’t care. He tells listeners, it is time to grow up and take responsibility.”