Distracted driving is defined as "where one or more of the vehicles involved had contributing factors including use of communication/video equipment, driver inattentive and driver internal/external distraction." Everyone knows to not do it, so why is it such a huge issue?
According to police data from 2011 to 2015, every year on average, 26 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland; eight on Vancouver Island; 32 in the Southern Interior; and 14 in BC's North Central region. A recent Ipsos Reid survey conducted for ICBC, almost all drivers believe distracted driving has led to an increase in crashes; however, nearly 40 percent admit to still using their device at least some of the time while driving, including stopped at a red light, which is still illegal. ICBC noted in a press release on Friday "Despite tougher penalties and increased education, distracted driving still contributes to more than one quarter of all car crash fatalities in BC, with an average of 78 people killed every year." Their solution - ICBC, police, and volunteers will be working together to plan more enforcement deployments across the province in March. Their efforts will include more than 70 police enforcement events and over 50 Cell Watch deployments with volunteers roadside. Cell Watch is an educational initiative aimed at reducing distracted driving in communities throughout BC.
The aim of these enforcement deployments is to give drivers the clear message that "if they drive while distracted, they're even more likely to be caught. Their awareness campaign will also feature radio and digital advertising, as well as social media posts. Last May, the government of BC announced new financial penalties for distracted driving. Since June 1st, 2016, the penalties rose from $167 to more than double at $368 in combination with escalating ICBC driver penalty point premiums, which start at $175 and four penalty points for the first offence (a total of $543) and will accumulate higher for any additional offences within a 12-month period. ICBC's director responsible for road safety, Lindsay Matthews stated that a driver is five times more likely to get into an accident if using a hand-held phone. "More crashes and distracted driving are putting pressure on insurance rates," said Matthews. "That's why we're committed to finding ways to reduce the number of crashes on our roads, but we need everyone's help - we all need to commit to driving without distractions."