B.C Distracted Driving Penalties Could Increase as Public Consultation Launched

Almost everybody has done it at some point while driving—touching their phone when they hear or sense an alert of some sort (well, now it’s on your Apple Watch). In B.C., Attorney General Suzanne Anton recently announced the province wants a public consultation to look into current distracted driving penalties and whether or not to raise them.

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Anton said at a press conference earlier this week (via CBC News) “We took a first step and increased the penalties last fall and now we’re looking at possible changes to the legislation, including more severe penalties.”

The government has now setup a website asking for the public’s input on the matter (it looks like anybody can vote?). Fines for distracted driving in B.C. rank second lowest in the country (Nunavut is not listed as there are no distracted driving laws):

$579 Nova Scotia
$500 Ontario (recently announced max fine will be $1000)
$400 Newfoundland and Labrador
$400 Prince Edward Island
$322 Northwest Territories
$280 Saskatchewan
$250 Yukon
$200 Manitoba
$173 New Brunswick
$172 Alberta
$167 British Columbia
$154 Quebec

B.C. NDP Justic Critic Mike Farnworth responded to the announcement with disappointment, saying he expected “more than a hashtag consultation”, along with “We know what the problem is. Distracted driving — people texting, people using cell phones while driving — kills people. There’s nothing to consult on.”

In 2014, over 50,000 distracted driving tickets were issued in B.C. by police, about a 2,000 ticket increase compared to 2013, according to ministry statistics.

What do you think about distracted driving penalties? Should they increase in B.C.?