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Many British Columbians support harsher penalities for distracted drivers: poll

Last Updated Dec 25, 2020 at 11:28 am PDT

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A Research Co. survey has found many British Columbians support being tougher on distracted drivers

In the past month, 55 per cent of people have seen someone talking or texting on their hand-held phones

The survey found 70 per cent of British Columbians support taking away electronic devices from repeat offenders

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With plenty of people still choosing to drive distracted, a new poll indicates many people in B.C. would like to see the province bring in tougher penalties.

Whether it’s higher fines or taking away cell phones, Research Co. has found a large portion of the province support bringing in new measures to crack down on distracted drivers.

“In spite of all the campaigns and discussions related to distracted driving, we continue to see British Columbians reporting someone breaking the rules,” Mario Canseco, Research Co. president, tells NEWS 1130.

RELATED: Is a phone in a cup holder worthy of a distracted driving ticket?

“What we see here is, it’s not a problem that is only affecting a tiny proportion of residents. We do see that it’s something that is B.C.-wide. We have more than half of residents who say, ‘somebody was breaking the law right in front of me,’ and it’s that’s why I think one of the reasons for residents to say, ‘Maybe what we’re doing is not enough.'”

In the past month, 55 per cent of people polled have seen someone talking or texting on their hand-held phones, and the survey found 70 per cent of participants support taking away electronic devices from repeat offenders.

Data also shows that about 54 per cent of those who were surveyed agree with one-year suspensions for people who continue to drive distracted. Even more people (59 per cent) would like to see current fines doubled to $1,250.

Fines for drivers who are caught emailing, texting, or using an electronic device while driving in B.C. can be fined $368 and four penalty points, which is equal to $252. So, a total of $620 for first-time infractions.

About 30 per cent of respondents thought the fines were too low, and it was too high in the opinion of 14 per cent of people.

“There’s definitely a high level of support for some of these policies, and there are other jurisdictions that have done something similar to this where they take away electronic devices from those who get caught,” Canseco says.

The study was conducted online from Dec. 14 to Dec. 16 among 800 people in B.C.