Penalties on driving stiffen

The B.C. government is toughening up on motorists who use their cell phone while driving.

The B.C. government is toughening up on motorists who use their cell phone while driving.

Significantly higher fines, more penalty points, and earlier interventions for repeat offenders — including driving prohibitions — are all part of the Province’s push to eliminate distracted driving and the dangers that come with it.

“Distracted driving continues to be on the rise and is the leading cause of collisions, both on the highways and in municipalities,” said Sgt. Mike Hacker of the Cariboo Chilcotin Traffic Unit.

“There is a time and a place for cell phones but driving isn’t one of them.”

A first offence for checking your phone while driving will cost B.C. drivers $543 when new penalties take effect June 1.

The fine for distracted driving goes up from $167 to $368, and drivers will also be assessed four penalty points, triggering another $175 charge. The combination results in a total penalty of $888 for a second offence within a year of the first.

Hacker said he welcomes the changes, along with the educational component to make drivers aware of the risks involved with distracted driving.

“Clearly there has to be a deterrence but the fine amounts are only one piece of the puzzle,” he said.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said the tougher legislation is the result of public consultation in which 90 per cent of respondents indicated they support stronger distracted driving penalties.

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