DISTRACTED driving is a factor in nearly 40% of police-reported car crash injuries and contributes to 77 deaths in B.C. each year, says ICBC.
Despite the risk, many B.C. drivers continue to use electronic devices while driving. Since 2018, police have issued more than 140,000 distracted driving tickets (issued from 2018 to June 2022).
That’s why ICBC and police have launched a month-long education and enforcement campaign across the province to combat distracted driving. Police will be ramping up enforcement of distracted driving laws.
Not only is distracted driving dangerous, but the costs can add up quickly. One distracted driving ticket is $368 plus four driver penalty points ($214) for a total of $582.
Drivers with two convictions for using an electronic device while driving in a three-year period will face as much as $2,000 in fines and penalties, over and above any vehicle insurance premiums.
Drivers in the graduated licensing program could be prohibited from driving for 3-8 months on top of other penalties.
In communities across the province, volunteers will be conducting Cell Watch deployments to remind drivers to take a break from their phone while driving. The campaign will also feature radio, digital and social media advertising.
Drivers can do their part by avoiding distractions and encouraging others to do the same. Make sure you have everything you need before you start driving, advises ICBC. Activate your phone’s ‘do not disturb while driving’ feature or what’s similarly available on other devices or third-party apps to help you stay focused on the road.
Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s Vice President Customer Experience and Public Affairs, says: “Safer roads start with each of us making the decision to drive distraction-free. That means putting your phone on do not disturb, programming your GPS before you start driving or leaving your phone in the glove box if you can’t avoid the temptation. By driving with a clear mind and focused attention, you’re helping to keep yourself and everyone around you safe on the road.”
Constable Mike Moore, NCO BC Highway Patrol, notes: “Despite increased awareness and enforcement efforts, many drivers still aren’t getting the message about the dangers of distracted driving. Every time a driver takes their eyes off the road, they put themselves and others on the road in danger. British Columbia police will be out on the road in every community making sure people leave their phones alone while driving.”
Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, says: “All drivers in the province need to respect other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians. Distracted driving is an unacceptable behaviour that endangers the lives of British Columbians with devastating effects for families and communities.”
Every year, on average, 23 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland.
Every year, on average, 10 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, 16 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the North Central region.
(Police data from 2017 to 2021. Distraction: where one or more of the vehicles involved had contributing factors including use of communication/video equipment, driver inattentive and driver internal/external distraction.)