Five Years of Illegal Distracted Driving

It’s been five years since using a mobile device while driving became illegal. But has the ban stopped drivers from picking up their phones?

The current fine for distracted driving under the BC Motor Vehicle Act is $167 and three demerit points, one of the lowest fines in Canada. According to CBC, more than 209,000 tickets were issued for distracted driving and of the 269 people killed in BC in the last year, distracted driving led to 77 deaths.

“I would say most drivers know intuitively it’s wrong to have a cellphone in your hand, there seems to be a disconnect between that and knowing it’s illegal,” North Vancouver RCMP Cpl. Richard DeJong tells CBC.

As part of their “Thumbs up. Phones Down.” campaign, a recent survey by TELUS found that 36 percent of Canadians admit they use their phone behind the wheel despite knowing that it’s wrong. Surprisingly, just 27 percent said it is illegal and 18 percent said that it’s dangerous.

“The behaviour change takes a while to come into effect and it really has to change into something that’s seen as socially unacceptable,” Brent Johnston of TELUS tells CBC.

TELUS has developed the following tips to help drivers combat this issue:

  • Before you start driving, put your device on silent, or keep it somewhere where you can’t see or hear it, such as your bag, glove compartment or the backseat.
  • If you can’t wait until the end of your trip, find a spot to safely pull over and put your car in park first before making a call or responding to a message.
  • If you’re waiting on an important message or call ask a passenger to read it out loud or take it for you so you can keep your eyes on the road.
  • If you’re a passenger, speak up. Using a smartphone while driving isn’t only against the law, it could be a matter of life or death.

Can’t resist looking at your device? Lock your phone in the trunk of your car before you start the engine.

For More Information:

  • Are Fines for Distracted Driving in BC too Low?, Slater Vecchio Connected
  • More than 200,000 tickets issued for distracted driving in BC, CBC
  • Five years since BC’s distracted driving ban came into effect, News1130

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Michael Slater, K.C.
Michael Slater K.C. is the founding partner of Slater Vecchio. The majority of his practice is confined to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury cases.