British Columbia introduces tough new distracted driving laws

British Columbia is dramatically increasing fines and penalties for distracted driving.

Driving while distracted just got a lot more expensive in British Columbia. According to CBC News, beginning June 01, 2016, drivers who are caught driving while distracted will face dramatically increased fines and financial penalties. The new regulations also make it easier for repeat offenders and young drivers to lose their licences for distracted driving. The new rules are in response to the increasing danger posed by distracted driving, which is now among the leading causes of fatal traffic accidents in the province and is expected to soon overtake impaired driving and speeding as the number one cause of young driver deaths in Canada.

Increasing financial penalties

Currently, British Columbia has one of the lowest distracted driving fines in the country, at $167. On June 1, however, that will change when first-time offenders will be required to pay a $368 fine along with $175 for four penalty points. The financial penalty for a first offence, therefore, will total $543.

For repeat offenders, the penalties go up significantly. A second offence within 12 months will result in the same $368 fine, but $520 in penalty points for a total financial penalty of $888. On a fifth offence, the total penalty will be $4,128, while on a tenth offence it could reach $14,888.

In addition to the financial penalties, the province is also making it easier to get distracted drivers off the road. Repeat offenders will be subject to an automatic licence review, which could lead to a driving prohibition of three months to a year. New drivers who are in the graduated licencing program will, meanwhile, have their licences reviewed after the first offence.

The cost of distracted driving

While those fines are certainly high, they pale in comparison to the toll distracted driving takes on the lives of road users in the province. As the Nelson Daily reports, distracted driving is now among the top three contributing factors in motor vehicle crashes in British Columbia, along with impaired driving and speeding. In 2014 alone, distracted or inattentive driving was a factor in the deaths of 66 people and seriously injured 630 more.

It is hoped that the tough new penalties will help discourage the problem. Proponents of the changes note that 90 percent of British Columbians say they want tougher actions taken against distracted drivers.

Personal injury law

Distracted driving is a menace that leaves far too many families suffering in both British Columbia and Washington State. For those who have been hurt in an accident that may have been caused by a distracted driver, help is at hand. An experienced personal injury lawyer can assist accident victims and advise them on what options they have going forward. In some cases, a lawyer may be able to assist crash victims with pursuing claims that could help mitigate the financial toll caused by an accident.