Drivers in British Columbia are facing stricter insurance penalties and a heavier police presence to curb the use of cell phones while driving.
March 2018 is a big month for distracted driving enforcement in B.C., as police start to carry out a distracted driving blitz.
According to a CBC News report, “police officers across the province” are using every method they can think of to spot and reprimand drivers who are using their cell phones while driving.
These methods include undercover cops standing at intersections, driving in tall trucks to look down on drivers, and renting regular cars to blend into traffic.
“The gloves are off with it, as far as the operational plans we put in place,” said Supt. Davis Wendell of the B.C. RCMP in an interview with CBC News.
With all of these methods for catching distracted drivers, there have been more than 300,000 tickets issued since 2010.
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is also working with the provincial government and province-wide police to help curb distracted driving by instating a new driver risk premiums.
The new premiums are for drivers who get two distracted driving tickets in a three-year span and it will charge offenders as much as $1,996.
The ICBC is also running a pilot program with 139 participants that tests a new technology that stops drivers phones from working when they’re operating a vehicle.
This new technology uses telematics, which can involve methods like using GPS and a device that is plugged into the car to lock users out of their phones while they’re driving.
The ICBC is running the program to test how well telematics work and if they can be installed into cars to give drivers a lower insurance rate — similar to drive-tracking features that some insurance companies use now.
How these new technologies will interact with legal car-phone systems like CarPlay and Android Auto remains to be seen, but hopefully they will be able to work even with a telematics device locking drivers’ phones while still being able to run apps.