What You Need to Know About Distracted Driving in B.C.

What You Need to Know About Distracted Driving in B.C.

If you’re driving while changing your car’s radio, digging around in your purse or fiddling with your GPS, you’re guilty of distracted driving. The list of what constitutes distracted is long, but there are easy solutions to each and the payoff is huge: avoiding damage to your car, serious injury, or death.

Distracted driving is now the second-leading contributing factor in motor vehicle deaths on our roads. Drivers who use handheld devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to cause injury. It’s estimated that distracted driving in BC last year killed at least 66 people and a further 630 people were seriously injured. BC and Ontario have now banned the use of hand-held electronic entertaining devices while driving.

What is the cost of distracted driving?

  • As of June 1, 2016 a first-time distracted driving ticket in BC will now cost you a $368 dollar fine and four demerit points. In total this will now cost you $543 for your first infraction.
  • A second distracted driving ticket within 12 months will cost you another $368.
  • A third offence would cost a driver more than $3,000 total.
  • The fine for distracted driving increased to $644 in school and construction zones.
  • New drivers will face possible prohibition after the first offence.
  • If you collect more than three points on your driving record in 12 months, ICBC charges you a Driver Penalty Point (DPP) premium.

Still unsure what constitutes distracted driving?

It’s anything that causes a driver’s judgment to be compromised and not fully focused on the road.

The following qualify as distracted driving:

  • Talking on a cell phone, texting, reading (e.g. books, maps, and newspapers),
  • Using a GPS
  • Watching videos or movies
  • Eating/drinking
  • Smoking
  • Personal grooming
  • Adjusting the radio/CD and playing extremely loud music.
  • Talking to passengers and driving while fatigued (mentally and/or physically) can be forms of distracted driving.

What you can do to avoid distracted driving:

Turn off your cellphone and other electronic devices
Reduce the temptation by keeping your phone out of sight with the ringer off. Otherwise, use hands-free wireless communications devices with an earpiece, lapel button or Bluetooth device. If you need to use your phone while the vehicle is in motion let someone else drive whenever possible, thus freeing you up to make and receive calls.

Plan ahead
If you will be using a GPS system, program your route prior to starting the car and set your GPS to call out the turns to avoid having to glance down to check it.

Passengers
If a risky situation arises on the road advise your passengers to be quiet so that your full attention will be focussed on the road and not them.

Music
Much like you plan your route, make sure you plan your playlist ahead of time too. Set it and forget it. Put your music or podcast on shuffle to avoid reaching for your phone to make any changes.

Personal grooming
Applying lipstick, doing your hair? Save the personal grooming for when you arrive at your destination.  

Following these simple steps will help keep you and others safe on the road.