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Province announces tougher penalties for distracted driving

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The BC government will soon come down harder on you if you are caught texting and driving.

Soon, you’ll end up with three points on your license to go with your $167 fine.

It goes into effect on October 20th and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton is sure this move will be strongly supported.

“We are doing this obviously because it’s a very serious problem on British Columbia roads and people know. Other drivers can’t stand it when people around them are on their phone and distracted because they’re just not paying enough attention to the task at hand, which is driving.”

It’s not just phones. Don’t touch your iPod, iPad, GPS or DVD player.

Anton says they went with the familiar points system already in use so the penalties should be clear.

“If you get three points in a year, that’s like a warning. If you get six points in a year, it starts to go onto your insurance. And if you get more than that, these things become very costly, very quickly.”

Get too many points and the superintendent of motor vehicles could flag you as a high-risk driver and take away your licence.

Karen Bowman with Drop it and Drive hopes repeat offenders might change their ways after a few months of taking the bus instead. “There was that one fellow earlier this year that had something like 26 tickets, or something? That will hopefully come to an end.”

Ian Tootill with Sense-BC knows everyone hates a texting driver, but he isn’t sure distracted driving is as large of a problem as the government thinks it is. “We have a right to laws that have an empirical safety foundation as their basis. And we have a right to see the numbers. And we have a right not to be snowed. I think we are being snowed on this one.”

The province claims distracted driving is the second leading cause of deadly accidents on our roads. The justice ministry isn’t done – It’s reviewing at the entire Motor Vehicle Act and fines across the board could go up when that’s done.