Column: Have your say on distracted driving penalties

Are you as concerned as I am about distracted driving? Are you tired of people texting while driving?

Are you as concerned as I am about distracted driving? Are you tired of people texting while driving? If you are, you have until 4 p.m. tomorrow on July 16 to have your say and let our government know what you would like to see done about it.

Distracted driving is a growing problem that has serious risks for everyone on the road, including those people who have survived a crash.

While our government has taken significant steps to punish distracted drivers including fines and issuing penalty points, we’ve heard calls that more needs to be done — and we agree. A newer website: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/distracteddriving/ — has collected comments from British Columbians in our government’s efforts to stop distracted driving and enhance safety on B.C. roads. It’s the midpoint of our distracted driving consultation. Of the thousands who have taken the time to add their voice, almost 90 per cent say they’re very concerned about stopping distracted driving.

Last fall, B.C. increased the penalty points for using a hand-held electronic device while driving, from zero to three, in addition to the $167 fine. One thing is abundantly clear — British Columbians think the fines are too low and are telling us they want us to consider adding alternative sanctions beyond just fines and penalty points.

I’m pleased to share with you that our government is taking the next step in B.C.’s effort to stop distracted driving, and curb a high-risk behaviour that’s now the second-highest contributing factor in motor vehicle deaths on B.C. roads.

In general, we’re hearing a lot from people in urban centres, but not a lot from rural areas such as the Cariboo-Chilcotin. Our government would love to hear what you have to say.

I encourage you to participate in the conversation and voice your opinion on distracted driving during a consultation that takes place until July 16 by visiting:gov.bc.ca/distracteddriving

Safety on our roads is everyone’s responsibility.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.