Texting is the new drunk driving

Attorney General considering raising fines in B.C., now at $167, because more people dying from distracted driving than impaired driving

Penalty for texting and driving includes demerit points and $167 fine

VICTORIA – More people are dying from distracted driving than drinking and driving, and that has caused Attorney General Suzanne Anton to reconsider whether B.C.’s penalties for using smart phones behind the wheel are tough enough.

Anton said the latest statistics from 2012 show 81 deaths from distracted driving in the year, compared to 55 related to impaired driving.

“People seem to know that they must not drink and drive, but distracted driving, people don’t seem to have the same level of awareness,” Anton said Wednesday.

B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act currently sets a $167 fine for talking on a hand-held mobile phone, and $167 plus three demerit points for emailing or texting while driving. Ontario recently raised its fine from $155 to $280, with a maximum of $500 for those who contest the fine and are convicted.

A few weeks ago Anton wasn’t convinced higher penalties would help change driver behaviour, but she said Wednesday she was disturbed to discover that B.C. has more distracted driving deaths than Ontario, which has three times the population.

“Should there be points attached to holding the handheld device and talking? Probably,” Anton said. “Should the fines be higher? Probably, so I’m having a look at both of those.”

Another statistic that caught Anton’s attention was the 51,000 distracted driving tickets handed out in B.C. in 2013. She said that’s a “huge number” that suggests the message of distracted driving is not getting through, and a reminder that seatbelt use and impaired driving also took time to impress on the public.

The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles is analyzing B.C. driving habits and will report to Anton, who is considering changing penalties later this year.

 

Just Posted

Craft cannabis development planned for Castlegar

Plans are underway for one of the first craft cannabis industrial parks in the province.

Annual Columbia Basin Culture tour coming up Aug 10 and 11

There are locations across the region participating

Rossland council passes plastic bag ban despite legal questions

Appeal court ruling threw bylaw in limbo, but council voted to move forward

Abra Brynne wins Kootenay-Columbia Green Party nomination

Brynne is one of three candidates who will challenge MP Wayne Stetski

Police call Appledale death a homicide

But few other details being released

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman sentenced to life in prison

Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Highway 1 closed to due fatal accident east of Revelstoke

A dump truck lost control and the driver was ejected

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

‘Beyond the call’: Teen in police custody gets birthday surprise by B.C. Mountie

Unusual celebration started when Staff Sgt. Paul Vadik went to visit the teen in his Coquitlam cell

Most Read