Data show when a driver decides to use their phone while driving, whether it’s dialing, texting, reading or using social media, the chance of crashing increases five fold.
So it’s no wonder that distracted driving is responsible for about one-quarter of all fatal crashes in British Columbia. Statistics show that every year on average distracted driving kills: 27 people in the Lower Mainland; 10 people on Vancouver Island; 31 people in the Southern Interior and 15 people in the North Central region.
Regardless of the obvious dangers of distracted driving, ICBC says drivers still take the risk.
That’s why ICBC, police and the province are teaming up to start a month-long distracted driving campaign in March.
Police will be ramping up their enforcement of distracted driving across the province and Cell Watch volunteers will be roadside helping to remind drivers to leave their mobile devices alone. ICBC road safety coordinators will also be heading to community events with a driving simulator that the public can try.
In June 2015, the provincial government started the process of looking at increasing fines for distracted drivers and launched a four-week consultation process allowing British Columbians to weight in. The majority of the respondents said they would like stronger penalties, specifically related to the dollar amount drivers are fined.
As it stands, B.C. drivers ticketed for distracted driving face three penalty points and a $167 fine, which is the second lowest fine in Canada.
In Nova Scotia, fines were increased from $176 to $234 for a first offence, and from $350 to $579 for any subsequent offences this February.
Distracted driving in B.C. (ICBC)