March 12, 2016 9:00am
British Columbia’s government banned the use of handheld devices while driving in 2010.
The current fines for disobeying the law are $167 and three demerit points, which is one of the lowest penalties in the country. While the fines are small, education on its impact is still needed as distracted driving is responsible for approximately one-quarter of all fatal crashes in the province.
Case in point is a tweet from the Richmond RCMP who recently pulled over a driver using their device that has been caught twelve times before. According to Cpl. Dennis Hwang, “I have never encountered anyone with that many convictions for distracted driving, ever. Might be a good candidate for having their driving license reviewed.”
Last June, a survey designed to help the province decide what penalties to adopt for distracted driving was launched with the specific goal of curbing distracted driving in the province. The majority of respondents indicated stronger penalties would be an effective deterrent, specifically related to the dollar amount drivers are fined.
Justice minister Suzanne Anton recently stated, “there will likely be changes to the penalty structure, but those remained to be seen and announced.”