B.C. to hike distracted driving penalties by $740

Two tickets over three years could net fines of up to $2,000

Getting caught checking your phone behind the wheel in B.C. is about to get a lot more expensive

Attorney General David Eby announced Monday that the province will designate distracted driving “high-risk,” meaning that two distracted driving tickets over three years could net drivers a $2,000 penalty in total.

READ: Senior drives into ditch while trying to use phone app

That’s an increase of $740 over the current penalty ($370 per ticket), and will sit on top of regular ICBC insurance premiums.

Currently, each distracted driving offence nets a fine of $368 and four penalty points. Those four penalty points add up to an additional fine of $175 under the penalty point system for a total of $543 per distracted driving offence.

However, those with multiple distracted driving tickets at the end of each year will pay more. While four penalty points add up to $175 in extra fees, eight points, or two distracted driving tickets, add up to $520.

“Distracted driving continues to put people in danger and significant pressure on insurance rates for all drivers,” said Eby.

“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.”

Speaking with reporters in Victoria on Tuesday, Eby said he wasn’t ruling out further increases if today’s announcement failed to cut down on distracted driving offences.

The stiffer fines will result in $3-5 million in additional premiums collected by the province.

Higher penalties for distracted driving were recommended in an Ernst & Young report released earlier this year that looked at ICBC’s management and finances, and found that if nothing changed soon, rates rates could jump by as much as 30 per cent by 2019.

READ: ICBC rates could go up 30 per cent by 2019: report

Distracted driving is a factor in one-quarter of all car crash deaths in B.C., and kills an average of 78 people each year. About 12,000 drivers have more than one distracted driving ticket over a three-year period.

These latest penalties are separate from standard Autoplan insurance, so drivers will get a bill even if they don’t own a vehicle or have one insured.

They take effect March 1, 2018.


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