Movie character Deadpool rides in a taxi driven by composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in driver advocate Chris Thompson’s latest video. Mozart’s face was added to illustrate that if all he did was drive a car, he might still be alive today based on the declining risk. (SenseBC)

Movie character Deadpool rides in a taxi driven by composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in driver advocate Chris Thompson’s latest video. Mozart’s face was added to illustrate that if all he did was drive a car, he might still be alive today based on the declining risk. (SenseBC)

Cell phone tickets worse tax grab than speed limits, SenseBC says

Distracted driving statistics questioned as B.C. tickets pile up

Chris Thompson’s first traffic safety video in 2013 led to increased speed limits on some B.C. highways, and he’s hoping his latest one prompts similar reforms to the wave of distracted driving tickets for cell phone use.

The latest controversy involves $368 traffic tickets being issued to B.C. drivers for having their phones sitting in a cupholder to charge while driving, or being held in hand at a stop light but not used.

Thompson’s new video, produced for driver advocacy group SenseBC, is called Speed Kills Your Pocketbook 2: Lying with Statistics. It reveals how accident data have been selectively fed to news media to reinforce a need for a crackdown on cell phone use. That has produced a blitz of 40,000 cell phone-related tickets in recent years, with only two deaths actually related to cell phone use, while over the same period, 100 deaths for other types of distraction, prompted fewer than 5,700 tickets.

“So why the huge enforcement blitz for these two people?” Thompson asks in the video. “It’s because it’s so, so easy, and drivers have money.”

Thompson and Sense BC’s Ian Tootill argue that no one has ever died from looking at a cell phone while stopped at a traffic light, and almost none have died in cell phone-related crashes of any kind.

RELATED: Phone in cupholder isn’t OK, public safety minister says

RELATED: Speed limits being rolled back on 15 B.C. highways

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact environment

Thompson’s statistics show that the rise of cell phone use and phone-related tickets has actually corresponded with a decline in distracted driving deaths. Between 2007 and 2016, annual distracted driving fatalities fell from 100 to 80 per year. Over the same period, impaired driving fatalities fell even more, from 170 to just below 80.

The decline in impaired deaths has been used in recent years by Premier John Horgan, Attorney General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth to emphasize that distracted driving is now “worse” than impaired driving, and that cell phones are the key culprit. This is the “lying with statistics” that justifies the cell phone blitz as statistics improve, which has so far been supported by one judge in a ticket dispute.

Speed Kills Your Pocketbook 2 also reviews the way Transportation Minister Claire Trevena skewed accident statistics to justify reducing highway speed limits that were increased to as much as 120 km/h. Trevena rolled back speed limits on 15 sections of highway where they were raised in 2014 by former minister Todd Stone.

Thompson points out that some years were selectively omitted, and that the effect of two harsh winters on crash statistics was also left out, despite the fact that on some highways, actual speeds went down as crashes rose due to bad highway conditions.

Much of the video is devoted to deconstructing Global TV news reports, which breathlessly depict cell phones and increased speed limits as reckless killers of B.C. motorists. Thompson said most media outlets fell for the narrative that supports a massive revenue grab, much of it going to ICBC for penalty points and insurance rate hikes as costs and tickets increase.

“Take statistical news stories with a huge grain of salt, because a lot of times they’re biased towards sensationalism,” Thompson says in the video.

Speed Kills Your Pocketbook 2 includes a testimonial from a retired West Vancouver traffic officer, who says the fatalities show he was being ordered by government and ICBC to enforce the wrong things.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The scene of a single-vehicle crash along Dolphin Drive in Nanoose Bay on Monday morning, April 19. (Mandy Moraes photo)
RCMP: No injuries reported in rollover crash in Nanoose Bay

Police say passengers indicate driver left the scene

The Town of Qualicum Beach plans to establish temporary shelters. (Town of Qualicum Beach illustration)
Town of Qualicum Beach seeks $1.25M grant to build temporary housing units

Aim is to move tenants in prior to the end of 2021

Mount Arrowsmith Teachers’ Association and its Nanaimo-Ladysmith counterpart seek stricter COVID-19 rules. (PQB News file photo)
Mount Arrowsmith teachers’ union asks health authority for stricter COVID-19 measures

Teachers ask for vaccine, more online learning, mask mandate for primary students

Dashwood Volunteer Fire Department emergency response vehicle. (PQB News file photo)
Dashwood fire department issues warning to residents to hold off on yard debris burning

Fire chief: ‘Hold off on burning until we get some rain’

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks at a press conference Monday, April 18. (B.C. Government image)
New COVID-19 cases tick down on the central Island

New cases held to single digits three days in a row

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read