Texting is the new drunk driving

Attorney General considering raising fines in B.C., now at $167, because more people dying from distracted driving than impaired driving

Penalty for texting and driving includes demerit points and $167 fine

VICTORIA – More people are dying from distracted driving than drinking and driving, and that has caused Attorney General Suzanne Anton to reconsider whether B.C.’s penalties for using smart phones behind the wheel are tough enough.

Anton said the latest statistics from 2012 show 81 deaths from distracted driving in the year, compared to 55 related to impaired driving.

“People seem to know that they must not drink and drive, but distracted driving, people don’t seem to have the same level of awareness,” Anton said Wednesday.

B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act currently sets a $167 fine for talking on a hand-held mobile phone, and $167 plus three demerit points for emailing or texting while driving. Ontario recently raised its fine from $155 to $280, with a maximum of $500 for those who contest the fine and are convicted.

A few weeks ago Anton wasn’t convinced higher penalties would help change driver behaviour, but she said Wednesday she was disturbed to discover that B.C. has more distracted driving deaths than Ontario, which has three times the population.

“Should there be points attached to holding the handheld device and talking? Probably,” Anton said. “Should the fines be higher? Probably, so I’m having a look at both of those.”

Another statistic that caught Anton’s attention was the 51,000 distracted driving tickets handed out in B.C. in 2013. She said that’s a “huge number” that suggests the message of distracted driving is not getting through, and a reminder that seatbelt use and impaired driving also took time to impress on the public.

The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles is analyzing B.C. driving habits and will report to Anton, who is considering changing penalties later this year.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay, Esquimalt firefighters headed up the big climb Sunday

Oak Bay firefighter joins former Esquimalt assistant chief for 48-storey stair climb

Development will bring 77 new homes to Colwood

Developers preparing land for six-storey, four-storey and two three-storey buildings on Sooke Road

Kids learn the ropes of business with free UVic entreprenuership training

The second annual Kidovate program is now open for registration

VicPD arrest man after hours-long barricade on Pandora Avenue

Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team called in to assist

VIDEO: Alleged shoplifter caught on camera at Sidney boutique

Staff at Cameron Rose Gifts seek the public’s help locating woman

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay Victoria man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

B.C. massage therapist suspended following allegations of sexual misconduct

While suspended, Leonard Krekic is not entitled to practice as an RMT in B.C.

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Most Read