The Province of BC announced yesterday they have upped distracted driving laws to now include three demerit points on top of existing $167 fines for those caught talking on their phones while driving.
The law also now applies to:
- watching a DVD
- programming a phone’s GPS
- operating hand-held audio players,
- texting on a cellphone
Demerits remain on your driving record for five years and can result in further penalties, including a ban on driving. If you have more than three demerits, your insurance premiums will increase, starting at $175. If you receive more than one distracted driving ticket in a year the penalty is $634 (two fines and $300 penalty for six points).
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton had this to say:
“I’m very concerned that distraction in all forms is the second highest contributing factor in motor vehicle fatalities in B.C. It’s clear that the $167 fine is not enough on its own, so we’re starting by targeting those people who are talking on a handheld device while they’re driving with more severe penalties. Ticket volumes show us that more drivers are ticketed for talking on an electronic device than for texting and driving, and so that is where we decided to start with the new penalty points.”
Distracted driving is now the second leading cause of vehicle fatalities in B.C (after speeding at 105; drinking and driving at 86), as 88 people were killed due to distracted driving from 2009 to 2013.
Just don’t touch your phone when you’re in the car, or maybe start using Siri hands-free mode (even that can be distracting). Then again, if you can’t last at least 30 minutes without touching your phone in the car, you have a problem.