British Columbia

Police step up distracted driving enforcement

ICBC, government and police reminding drivers to ‘take a break from their phone’ during campaign this month

Cory Correia - CBC News

September 06, 2017

Police across the province are increasing their enforcement of distracted driving. A radio and television advertising campaign will begin airing on Sept. 11. (CBC)

Distracted driving kills more British Columbians than impaired driving, accounting for nearly 78 deaths on B.C. roads every year.

That's the headline leading ICBC's new distracted driving campaign this month. 

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The insurer has partnered with the provincial government and police to remind drivers to "take a break from their phone."

Police across the province are increasing their enforcement, and a radio and television advertising campaign will begin airing on Monday, Sept. 11. 

"Heading into the school year, I'd like to remind everyone to be safe behind the wheel and keep your eyes on the road at all times," said Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general in a statement. 

"Distracted driving is a high-risk driving offence, which makes it equivalent to excessive speeding and driving without due care and attention. If your vehicle isn't equipped for hands-free use of your handheld device, turn off the ringer before you turn on the ignition," said Farnworth.

As of June 2016, legislation was introduced to increase the fine from $167 to $368 for using a phone or hand-held electronic device while driving. The penalty points jumped from three to four.  

In 2016, 43,000 distracted driving tickets were issued — tickets which have generated $46 million in revenue since 2010.

ICBC says distracted driving is also one of the leading causes of crashes with pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. 

"Distracted driving is entirely preventable, as are the crashes and casualties caused by the behaviour," said B.C. Attorney General David Eby in a statement. 

Eby said the government is working on a pilot program using new technologies that would eliminate distracted driving among high-risk groups. 

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