Texting and driving is a world-wide problem and it’s killing us. Our devices have gotten smarter, but what about people? Too many of us continue to text while driving and the results are senseless and tragic.
You don’t mess with Texas, and as one driver in the Lone Star State learned the hard way you also don’t mess with texting and driving. This spring, a 20 year-old man in a pickup truck was driving through a rural part of the state. His driving was erratic and caused others on the road to worry. Then suddenly their fears were confirmed — he crashed into a church van. He survived but thirteen people in the van were killed.
How did such a tragedy unfold so quickly and with such deadly consequences? “I’m sorry. I was texting,” the young man was heard to say at the site of the crash. Thirteen souls wiped from the Earth because one man just couldn’t put his phone down. Legislation is working its way through the state house, but Texas currently doesn’t have rules against texting while driving. Forty-six other states do.
Canadian regulations are of course different. Nunavut is the only jurisdiction with no such rules on the books – every other province and territory has a ban and penalties. Here in BC, using an electronic device while driving has been banned since 2010. If you’re using a hand-held electronic device while driving, there’s an immediate first-time fine of $368 and four penalty points – an additional $175. That text will cost you $543 and will go up and up each time you do it. Ten offences in a year in BC can add up to over $18,000 in penalties!
Some hands-free devices are permitted while driving in British Columbia, including audio and navigation systems. A list of these, with details, is available here. But if you have a red “L” or a green “N” on the back of your BC licensed car, no devices are allowed at all, including hands-free technology.
While bans and fines have an impact on some people’s decision to leave their phones alone while driving, more needs to be done to change attitudes and behaviours. Take the pledge to never text while driving, lock up your devices while behind the wheel, and make sure your loved ones are on the same page. If not? Well, as one man and a community in Texas found out recently, there’s a much harsher impact on lives than any fine or point deduction – leave the phone alone.
For more information
- Quick facts on distracted driving in BC, ICBC
- Distracted Driving in the United States, NHTSA
- Driving While Distracted (DWD) May Be the New DUI, Insurance Bureau of Canada
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