AT the halfway point of B.C.’s distracted driving consultation, it’s clear that British Columbians are very concerned about this dangerous behaviour and would support tougher penalties to curb it, says the Province.
Since June 16, the website has been visited over 11,800 times. Nearly 90% of those leaving feedback say they’re “very concerned” about distracted driving, and 96% support escalating sanctions for repeat offenders. In fact, a majority of British Columbians favour increasing the fine amount and have indicated a combination of sanctions are needed to make people stop using their handheld devices while driving.
This week, government would like to know what people think of vehicle impoundments and licence suspensions as effective penalties.
* While feedback has come fairly equally from throughout the province for the most part, one region – the north – has been significantly underrepresented, with about 5% of comments posted online so far.
* Vehicle impoundment currently exists as a sanction for excessive speeding and drinking and driving, ranging from three to 60 days. This is one of the alternative approaches government is considering implementing as a sanction for distracted driving.
The consultation runs until July 16. To add your voice, visit gov.bc.ca/distracteddriving or tweet @RoadSafetyBC using the #distractedbc hashtag.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton said on Tuesday: “Distracted driving is the second-leading cause of death on B.C.’s roads. It’s encouraging to see British Columbians express how concerned they are about this dangerous issue, as that is the first step in changing behaviour. It’s obvious we need to look at raising penalties from where they are currently, and we are committed to doing that.
“Over the remaining two weeks of the consultation, our goal is to focus on the feedback from British Columbians and really hone in on what will make people put their phones away – or avoid picking them up in the first place. While this means fines and penalty points, I would expect we will also seriously consider vehicle impoundments and licence suspensions for repeat offenders.”
* To date, there have been 11,880 site visits leading to 36,250 total responses to the nine questions on the site.
* This is in addition to 1,123 written comments left, 567 emails submitted and 500 tweets.
* Police handed out more than 55,000 distracted driving tickets last year. That’s up from 53,000 the year before.
* 88 people died last year on B.C. roads due to distracted driving.
* B.C.’s current distracted driving penalties – $167 and three penalty points – are the second-lowest in the country.