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Higher fines, insurance costs for BC distracted drivers

(Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Higher fines in place for distracted drivers in BC

ICBC premiums could be affected as police crack down on distracted drivers

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – BC drivers now face stiffer penalties and new technology as police across the province dive into another distracted driving enforcement blitz this month.

New rules which came into effect Mar. 1 mean anyone caught driving distracted twice in three years could face added increases to their insurance premiums and fines up to $2,000, a $740 increase over the previous penalty.

“We all travel in traffic and it’s astounding how the message about not using your cell phones has not permeated down to people on the street yet,” RCMP Superintendent Davis Wendell said. “No call or text is worth ruining lives over. The message is simple; when you’re behind the wheel, leave the phone alone, or it may be the last thing you do.”

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Whether in full uniform or plain clothes, more officers will be out trying to catch distracted drivers throughout March. Officers are also piloting new scopes to help them see into passing and oncoming vehicles.

“We want out officers to identify people that are breaking the law and to have a contact with them in which our effort is to change their behaviour,” Wendell said. “If the officer is satisfied that a warning ticket is enough to change the behaviour that’s fine.”

BC already has some of the harsher penalties in the country for distracted driving.

“A combination of things is what you really need to get the message across,” lCBC Director Lindsay Matthews said, adding it’s about changing culture and attitudes as well. “As we work closer in schools and in communities you find the cultural change will also move from below.”

ICBC has also launched a three-month pilot program where 139 volunteers have installed a device in their vehicle that blocks them from using their cell phone when they’re driving. The insurer will gather feedback on the pilot before figuring out the future of the technology in the province.