Texting is the new drunk driving

Attorney General considering raising fines in B.C., now at $167, because more people dying from distracted driving than impaired driving

Penalty for texting and driving includes demerit points and $167 fine

VICTORIA – More people are dying from distracted driving than drinking and driving, and that has caused Attorney General Suzanne Anton to reconsider whether B.C.’s penalties for using smart phones behind the wheel are tough enough.

Anton said the latest statistics from 2012 show 81 deaths from distracted driving in the year, compared to 55 related to impaired driving.

“People seem to know that they must not drink and drive, but distracted driving, people don’t seem to have the same level of awareness,” Anton said Wednesday.

B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act currently sets a $167 fine for talking on a hand-held mobile phone, and $167 plus three demerit points for emailing or texting while driving. Ontario recently raised its fine from $155 to $280, with a maximum of $500 for those who contest the fine and are convicted.

A few weeks ago Anton wasn’t convinced higher penalties would help change driver behaviour, but she said Wednesday she was disturbed to discover that B.C. has more distracted driving deaths than Ontario, which has three times the population.

“Should there be points attached to holding the handheld device and talking? Probably,” Anton said. “Should the fines be higher? Probably, so I’m having a look at both of those.”

Another statistic that caught Anton’s attention was the 51,000 distracted driving tickets handed out in B.C. in 2013. She said that’s a “huge number” that suggests the message of distracted driving is not getting through, and a reminder that seatbelt use and impaired driving also took time to impress on the public.

The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles is analyzing B.C. driving habits and will report to Anton, who is considering changing penalties later this year.

 

Just Posted

Harrison Festival fundraiser dance to have ’70s theme and features Chilliwack band

Chilliwack band The Vacationers to perform at May 31 Harrison Festival Society’s fundraising concert

Seabird Island opens 50th annual festival

The weekend festival will see First Nations teams compete in soccer, three-pitch and canoe races

Lofty plans for Chilliwack school district revealed

Chilliwack school district draws up plan to add 2,900 student seats in five years

Agassiz study to look at drone use for pesticide application

The study will be the first in Canada to use drones to apply pesticides to farm fields

Chilliwack’s pediatric observation unit gets financial shot from trades workers

Unions and contractors donate more than $30,000 to Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

Toronto will play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors next

Semis catch fire at wrecker off Highway 1 in west Abbotsford

Crews called to scene at around 2 p.m., finding up to six semis that had caught fire at the wrecker

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Most Read