B.C. lawyer says number of driving fatalities due to electronic devices is ‘exaggerated’

New report accuses government of exaggerating deaths
Are governments, ICBC and even the police exaggerating the dangers of distracted driving? A Richmond company says its freedom-of-information request has revealed far fewer deaths due to drivers using cellphones than officials claim. Ted Chernecki reports

A Richmond lawyer says ICBC and the province are greatly exaggerating the number of deaths caused by using an electronic device behind the wheel.

According to Paul Doroshenko, BC Coroners stats show that 14 people died from using an electronic device while driving between 2008 and 2016. This after ICBC said last year that 80 people a year were dying from distracted driving.

LISTEN: Simi Sara talks to Paul Doroshenko about the numbers he discovered 
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“They lump in people who are staring at their radio, or just drift off not thinking, maybe people who fall asleep, with people with cellphone violations,” said Doroshenko.

“Clearly, cellphone violations aren’t the threat they are made out to be.”

READ MORE: B.C. to impose big penalties for distracted driving

Doroshenko said he’s not suggesting that using a device while driving isn’t dangerous, but the problem is that those people aren’t the ones being stopped.

“They justify these enforcement actions where they hand out tickets like crazy to people who look at their cellphone at an intersection when they hear it beep and they’re worried about their kid at school or something — those people get a ticket.”

WATCH: NDP government to institute tougher penalties for distracted driving

NDP government to institute tougher penalties for distracted driving
NDP government to institute tougher penalties for distracted driving

He said giving tickets to people who are just sitting at a light won’t help make roads safer, noting the fines exceed the risk.

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In a written response to Doroshenko’s numbers, Joanna Linsangan with ICBC said the focus on smartphone safety is because they are the most common driver distraction.

READ MORE: 2 new pilot programs to be tested in B.C. to crack down on distracted driving

She said according to studies, crashes are five times more likely if a driver is using a handheld device.

In 2016, 43,000 tickets were issued to people in B.C. using electronic devices and 300,000 since 2010.