One of a series of B.C. government graphics aimed at educating drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.

Public demands higher distracted driving fines

Thousands offer advice on stronger penalties, but most are older people from the Lower Mainland

Halfway through a consultation on distracted driving policy, the vast majority of B.C. residents who have responded want fines increased.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton says thousands of people have participated on the B.C. government’s consultation website, and more than 90 per cent want stronger action to stop people talking or texting on their phones while they’re behind the wheel. The issue now is how high the fines should go.

“British Columbians are also telling us they want to see tougher escalating penalties for repeat offenders, because right now some people see the $167 ticket as the cost of doing business,” Anton said Tuesday. “We need to stop that.”

B.C.’s fine is the second lowest in Canada, and a three-point insurance penalty was added last fall. Anton said she doesn’t intend to follow Ontario’s lead and put the fine up to $1,000 for repeat offenders, but an increase will be coming within a year.

Comments on the website continue to debate the merits of seizing cellphones from drivers, but Anton reiterated that option is not being considered.

Suspending licences or impounding vehicles of repeat offenders is on the table, however. Saskatchewan impounds the vehicle for a week if the driver gets two distracted driving tickets less than a year apart.

The consultation continues until July 16. Participants are asked to reply to nine questions.

The crowd-sourcing exercise has its weaknesses. Only five per cent of respondents have come from the B.C. Interior, and Anton said younger people are also under-represented.

The province attributes 88 deaths to distracted driving last year, second to speeding and ahead of impaired driving.

 

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

Just Posted

Parksville chamber names finalists for annual business awards

Parksville-Qualicum Community Foundation to receive Community Spirt Award

PQB crime report: Thieves pilfer safe, flare gun, even a walker

Oceaside RCMP deal with 196 complaints in one-week span

Coldest Night of the Year walk in Parksville scheduled for Feb. 22

Annual event raises money for those in need

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Maggie and Tim: A residential school survivor and her son who died on B.C. streets

Part one of a two-part series on a young man’s tragic death and his mother’s survival through hardship

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Most Read