British Columbia considers new penalties for distracted driving

With distracted driving deaths still high, B.C. is looking for new solutions to the problem.

Distracted driving continues to be a major threat on the road. In fact, according to CBC News, about a quarter of all fatal car accidents in British Columbia involve distracted driving. Distracted driving rates remain high despite the province having substantially increased fines in 2016 for the offence. The problem has now led the government to consider new solutions to crack down on bad drivers, including encouraging apps that disable certain phone functions when a person is driving to tough new penalties that were recently introduced in Ontario.

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The distracted driving epidemic

As stated above, about one-in-four traffic fatalities in the province are now due to distracted driving. In fact, distracted driving has become such an epidemic on the roads that it is overtaking the number of people who are killed in alcohol-related crashes.

The problem was brought to the fore recently when Vancouver police announced that during the single month of September 2017 they handed out an astonishing 1,969 distracted driving tickets, according to CTV News. Those citations were all for the use of an electronic device while driving and not for other types of distracted driving. In one case, a driver received two distracted driving tickets just eight minutes apart from one another, resulting in fines totalling $736.

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Looking for solutions

The government more than doubled the fine for distracted driving from $167 to $368 in 2016 while also adding demerit points, which lead to further insurance premium penalties. Despite those tough new fines, clearly the problem of distracted driving continues largely unabated, which has led to calls for more creative solutions and even harsher penalties.

One proposed solution is getting ICBC to offer discounts to drivers who download apps on their phones that automatically block texts and incoming calls in moving vehicles. Such technology has already been used in parts of the United States as a way of encouraging safer driving.

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Provincial regulators are also looking at Ontario, where the government recently announced it would introduce licence suspensions for distracted driving, including for first-time offenders. The Ontario government has also promised to increase the penalty for careless driving causing death or bodily harm to a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to two years in jail.

Help after an accident

For those who have been hurt in an accident, the next few weeks and months can be especially difficult, not only physically, but financially as well. An accident often leads to many substantial and unexpected expenses, including possible medical treatment, physiotherapy, lost income, property repair, and more. Most accident victims can make a claim through ICBC, but getting the maximum amount of compensation is not always easy. That’s where a personal injury lawyer can help. An experienced lawyer can assist clients with every step of the claims process, including by negotiating directly with ICBC on their client’s behalf in order to help them achieve a fair amount of compensation.

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