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Could texting behind the wheel cost you your keys? Attorney General hints it’s possible

Click to play video 'NDP government to institute tougher penalties for distracted driving' NDP government to institute tougher penalties for distracted driving
WATCH: NDP government to institute tougher penalties for distracted driving (Nov., 2017) – Nov 6, 2017

B.C.’s attorney general has hinted that distracted drivers could possibly lose their privileges behind the wheel.

Speaking with Shane Woodford of Radio NL on Friday, David Eby was asked whether, in cracking down on distracted driving, the province might consider taking a page from impaired driving enforcement and implement immediate roadside prohibitions.

“Absolutely,” Eby said.

“We’re escalating the penalties and consequences of distracted driving to try and to try to get the message through to this hardcore group that just will not put their phones down.

READ MORE: B.C. moves to designate distracted driving ‘high-risk’ under ICBC

“Because the same thing happened with seatbelts, and with drinking and driving, and whatever it’s going to take to get there.”

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Global News requested an interview with Eby to clarify the remarks, but was told he was not available.

WATCH: Shocking stories of distracted driving

Click to play video 'Shocking stories of distracted driving' Shocking stories of distracted driving
Shocking stories of distracted driving – Oct 3, 2017

The government provided a statement from Solicitor General Mike Farnworth in which he said that current penalties don’t seem to be deterring distracted drivers.

Between June 2016 and June 2017, police in B.C. issued 44,000 distracted driving tickets, down “just” 13 per cent from the same period in 2015/2016, Farnworth said.

“For these reasons, we’re taking action to make some of the toughest distracted driving penalties in Canada even tougher,” he said.

“The changes we announced last fall mean that, starting March 1, 2018, distracted drivers with multiple distracted driving offences will face added and higher penalties, over and above their regular insurance premium.”

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

Farnworth did not address the potential for roadside prohibitions for distracted drivers.

Back in November, the province announced aggressive new penalties for distracted drivers, which include higher fines, ICBC premium hikes and escalating penalties for repeat offenders.

WATCH: Vancouver driver busted with elaborate steering wheel setup

Click to play video 'Vancouver driver busted with elaborate steering wheel setup' Vancouver driver busted with elaborate steering wheel setup
Vancouver driver busted with elaborate steering wheel setup – Nov 17, 2017

Also on Friday, the province announced that a government-led independent review of ICBC had found a way to shave another $60 million from the public insurer’s deficit.

ICBC is expected to lose $1.3 billion this fiscal year.

READ MORE: Vancouver police astounded after pulling over distracted driver with tablet, phone attached to steering wheel

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According to the province, the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report found that additional savings could be realized by optimizing vendor management, improving salvage and subrogation management and shifting to a proactive injury care model.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation B.C. director Kris Sims is applauding the savings, but says it’s disturbing that every time someone takes a magnifying glass to ICBC they find more money.

“It’s always concerning when a review manages to find $60 million dollars in the couch cushions,” she said.

Sims says she wants to see ICBC privatized as a co-op and removed from the government books.

Earlier in February, the BC NDP government announced it would introduce caps on pain and suffering for “minor injuries,” move the majority of claims out of the court system and put more money into medical care rather than cash payouts.

Those reforms are expected to save the insurer about $1 billion per year.

-With files from Michelle Morton

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