Distracted driving to be designated ‘high risk’ driving behaviour

 

The province is working to designate distracted driving as a high-risk driving behaviour under the ICBC Driver Risk Premium program.

This means a driver with two distracted driving tickets in a three-year period will see their total financial penalties rise to as much as $2,000 ― an increase of $740 over the existing penalties. This is in addition to their regular insurance premium.

“Distracted driving continues to put people in danger and significant pressure on insurance rates for all drivers. Today, we are taking action to curb the behaviour and improve safety for all B.C. road users,” said Attorney General David Eby, in a press release. “Once implemented, this change will treat distracted driving as the serious high-risk behaviour that it is; one that is on par with impaired driving and excessive speeding. Taking action to improve safety and penalize dangerous behaviours benefits all British Columbians and is another step in the right direction.”

Distracted driving is a factor in more than 25 per cent of all car crash fatalities in B.C., killing an average of 78 people each year, according to the government. Currently, there are about 12,000 drivers in British Columbia that have multiple distracted-driving offences over a three-year period.

When fully implemented, the changes will result in about $3 million to $5 million in additional premiums collected annually, which will be used to offset ICBC’s overall basic insurance rate pressures, benefiting drivers around the province.

“It is mind-boggling to see that people still believe that picking up their phone, for even a split second, while driving is safe. Two seconds of looking at your screen is all it takes to cross the lane into oncoming traffic,” said Paula Pepin, who was the victim of a serious crash caused by a distracted driver and whose life has been forever affected. “Distracted driving through the use of mobile devices has become a widespread issue and more must be done to change people’s behaviour. This is a step in the right direction, and hopefully, the start of a broader cultural shift around this issue. I’m proud to see British Columbia lead the way.”