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Province looking at improving distracted driving laws

(iStock Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Prince Edward Island now has the toughest distracted driving laws in the country.

But whether or not BC heads in the same direction, remains to be seen.

The province is going through more than 10,000 of your suggestions to improve the laws here, hoping to have them on the books by next spring.

“What’s in place right now isn’t working, clearly. My only concern about higher fines and demerits is the potential for people to believe that’s the answer. If we can just fine people enough money, it will solve the problem and I don’t think that’s the case,” says Karen Bowman with anti-distracted-driving group Drop It And Drive.

She says it still doesn’t have the same negative association as something like drinking and driving.

“When people see other people on their phones (while driving), there’s not that same sense of ‘That’s just wrong.’ There’s not the same taboo in terms of what the behaviour is behind the wheel and I don’t think there’s recognition of the true risk of the behaviour.”

PEI tripled its maximum fine to 12-hundred dollars which comes with five demerit points.

The minimum fine is now up to five-hundred dollars.

Bowman says education campaigns are slowly changing the perception of distracted driving but there is a long way to go.

“There’s a stigma that is starting to build but what is confusing to me, is that the stigma isn’t translating into changed behaviour.”

The Superintendent of RoadSafetyBC responded to PEI’s new rules, and whether or not they may impact BC going forward in a statement.

“Distracted driving is dangerous and avoidable and British Columbians have stated that BC’s penalties are too low. RoadSafetyBC will be working to move forward with penalties that reflect the tough, fair, and effective response necessary to curtail distracted driving as the second highest contributing factor to fatalities on BC roads,” says Sam MacLeod.