The Ministry of Attorney General for the Government of British Columbia has announced it will push to make distracted driving a designated high-risk driving practice under the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s (ICBC) Driver Risk Premium program.
Because of this, a driver with two distracted driving tickets over a three-year period will have total fines of up to $2,000. This is $740 over the current financial penalties. In a press release the Attorney General notes the increase would be on top of the existing auto insurance premium.
To make the changes, modifications will be made to the ICBC Basic Insurance Tariff. The B.C. Government will now instruct ICBC and the B.C. Utilities Commission to make the changes, which will be introduced by March 1, 2018.
“Distracted driving continues to put people in danger and significant pressure on insurance rates for all drivers,” Attorney General David Eby said in the release.
“Today, we are taking action to curb the behaviour and improve safety for all B.C. road users. 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 has become an increasing problem on provincial roads, and contributes to 25% of all fatal car collisions in British Columbia. An average of 78 people die as a result of distracted driving each year. Many say the situation is becoming epidemic, with 12,000 drivers in the province holding multiple distracted-driving offences.
ICBC has recently been in financial trouble due to rising collisions and claims. The company would have to raise rates by up to 30% to balance the books. New distracted driving initiatives will bring between $3 million and $5 million in added premiums each year.
“B.C. already has some of the toughest distracted-driving penalties in Canada and these changes make our rules even tougher,” suggested Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “In the continuing fight against distracted driving, even a single death is one too many.”