B.C. increases penalty for distracted driving

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Starting next week, motorists cited for distracted driving will find the penalty has increased for the violation.

British Columbia has made amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) regulations that now up the punishment for distracted driving, broadening the reach of distracted driving rules to include infractions such as talking on a hand-held device, watching a DVD, inputting information into a smartphone’s GPS app, and operating a hand-held music player.

Drivers caught in the act will face a $167 fine as well as receive three driver penalty points.

The new regulation goes into effect October 20, and puts the additional distracted driving offences on par with the penalty for text messaging while driving.

Penalty points can accumulate and lead to further consequences, such as increased insurance premiums, as well as potential loss of driving privilege.

The Ministry of Justice says the province is also looking into increasing the fines for distracted driving, however no new amounts have been determined as of yet.

“We’re focusing on penalties that will change people’s behaviour. Increasing penalty points is an important first step and increasing fines is something that remains on the table,” says Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone.

“It’s clear that the $167 fine is not enough on its own, so we’re starting by targeting those people who are talking on a handheld device while they’re driving with more severe penalties,” remarks Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton. “Ticket volumes show us that more drivers are ticketed for talking on an electronic device than for texting and driving, and so that is where we decided to start with the new penalty points.”

In 2013, police in B.C. issued 51,200 violation tickets to drivers who were using an electronic device behind the wheel.

Featured image: Syda Productions / Shutterstock

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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