For the B.C. government, 2015 appears to be the year of the road.
The government is focused on two problems: left-lane hogs and distracted drivers.
Drivers that “hog” the left lane on B.C.’s highways can now be fined $167 (as opposed to the old $109 fine) and given three penalty points against their license.
According to a release from the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, drivers on multi-lane highways (where speed limits are at least 80 kilometres per hour) must stay to the right unless they’re passing another vehicle, moving left to allow traffic to merge, preparing to turn left, or moving over for a stopped emergency vehicle.
“Drivers who block the left lane increase the risk caused by aggressive drivers who will pass on the right or tailgate,” said Chief Neil Dubord, chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, in a release. “This change provides clarity to police officers who will enforce the requirement for vehicles to travel in the right lane.”
Drivers are allowed to move into the left lanes if the right lanes are unsafe or during congested times when speeds drop below 50 kilometres per hour.
This news comes amidst the government’s campaign to crack down on distracted driving: B.C.’s attorney general Suzanne Anton has launched a public consultation on whether to increase penalties handed out for distracted driving.
“We took a first step and increased the penalties last fall and now we’re looking at possible changes to the legislation, including more severe penalties,” Anton said when she announced the consultation on June 16.
Police in B.C. wrote more than 50,000 tickets to distracted drivers using a device while behind the wheel, up 2,000 tickets from just two years prior.
"We know what the problem is. Distracted driving — people texting, people using cell phones while driving — kills people. There's nothing to consult on,” B.C. NDP justice critic Mike Farnworth told CBC.ca.
Ontario recently raised the maximum fine for distracted driving to $1,000 from $500. B.C. has one of the lowest fines for distracted driving in the country:
- $154 Quebec
- $167 British Columbia
- $172 Alberta
- $173 New Brunswick
- $200 Manitoba
- $280 Saskatchewan
- $250 Yukon
- $322 Northwest Territories
- $400 Prince Edward Island
- $400 Newfoundland and Labrador
- $579 Nova Scotia
- $1,000 Ontario