Penalties now in effect for distracted drivers

“It’s clear that the $167 fine is not enough on its own,” says Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton.

Photo by Lord Jim via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/8iH4En
Photo by Lord Jim via Flickr

It’s time to put those cell phones away, as the province’s new distracted driving penalties hit the roads today. Anyone caught talking on, dialing or holding their cell phones will receive a $167 fine and three penalty points. This is the current penalty in place for drivers caught texting or e-mailing.

“It’s clear that the $167 fine is not enough on its own,” said attorney general and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton in a release.Some (drivers) will have to pay a driver penalty point premium, while others will more quickly end up being monitored by the Superintendent and possibly even prohibited from driving, which will improve safety for all road users.

The penalties don’t just apply to cellular phones, operating any hand-held audio player such as an iPods or mp3 players or programming a GPS is also prohibited.

Police issued 51,200 violation tickets to drivers who were using an electronic device in 2013, according to the release. Distracted driving is the second leading contributing factor of vehicle fatalities in BC.

“Police officers are often the first on the scene after serious collisions, many caused by driver distraction,” said BC Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee chair Chief Neil Dubord. We want people to understand that using an electronic device while driving can be a fatal choice, for you and the other road users whose lives you put in danger.”

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