British Columbia

B.C.'s distracted drivers to get hit with higher insurance premiums

The provincial government wants to designate distracted driving as a high-risk driving behaviour under the ICBC Driver Risk Premium program.

2 distracted driving tickets in a 3-year period could mean penalties up to $2,000

The new insurance premium hike for distracted drivers will be implemented by March 2018. (David Horemans/CBC)

B.C.'s provincial government has announced it will be targeting distracted drivers with higher insurance premiums.

The change will mean distracted driving will be considered a high-risk behaviour under the ICBC Driver Risk Premium program.

Driver Risk Premium charges are fees above and beyond a regular car insurance plan, and can be charged even if the driver does not own or insure a vehicle. 

This means a driver with two distracted driving tickets in a three-year period could see their financial penalties rise up to as much as $2,000.

Currently about 12,000 people in B.C. have multiple distracted driving offences. The change will result in an extra $3 million to $5 million in additional premiums for the provincial insurance corporation.

Attorney General David Eby said the measure is meant to curb the dangerous behaviour.

"Distracted driving continues to put people in danger and significant pressure on insurance rates for all drivers," he said in a statement. "Taking action to improve safety and penalize dangerous behaviours benefits all British Columbians and is another step in the right direction."

According to the government, more than 25 per cent of all car crash fatalities in B.C. occur due to distracted driving. The behaviour kills an average of 78 people each year.

The higher premiums are expected to go into effect for distracted driving convictions beginning March 1, 2018.