British Columbia Doubling Down on Combatting Distracted Driving

Published: September 5, 2016

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is partnering with the provincial police force and local governments for a month-long campaign to combat distracted driving. The collaboration will address distracted driving in B.C. through various events, propaganda, and a clamp down by law enforcement.

In a press release to announce the campaign, the ICBC says distracted driving accounts for around one-quarter of all fatal collisions in British Columbia.

To make sure drivers know the risks, the campaign will be carried out alongside the introduction of new harsher penalties for drivers caught not in full control of their vehicles. Distracted driving is most commonly associated with using a cellphone while operating a vehicle, but there are other aspects such as applying make-up, checking navigation systems, and more.

The press release points out that using a cellphone at an intersection whil stationary is still classed as distracted driving by the law.  “It’s one of the biggest misconceptions about distracted driving and a top excuse police hear,” ICBC said in the release. “This is especially dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists at intersections.”

British Columbia introduced harsher distracted driving penalties on June 1, 2016. This means there is a base fine of $368 with penalty points added to insurance premiums by the ICBC. These penalties start at $175 for a first offence and climb for more offences within a 12-month period.

Despite campaigns and stricter laws, using insurance as a deterrent is among the most potent strategies and it should be employed nationwide. Many drivers still see distracted driving as a silly law, but making them suffer through insurance penalties will help to make motorists aware that it is against the law. No one wants to see premiums rise so insurance companies should be encouraged to help clamp down on

“The law applies whenever you’re in control of your vehicle – even when stopped at a light or in bumper-to-bumper traffic,” the ICBC release pointed out. “Studies show that drivers who are talking on a cellphone lose about 50% of what is going on around them, visually.”

“Insurance rates in B.C. are under incredible pressure from a number of external factors, primarily caused by an increasing number of crashes occurring on our roads – 300,000 crashes, or more than 800 every single day, in 2015 alone,” said Steve Crombie, ICBC’s vice president responsible for road safety, in the release. “Many of these crashes are caused by high-risk driving behaviours, including distracted driving.”