Motorists need to pay attention

Increased distracted driving fines and points went up June 1

Folks who like to talk and text on their hand-held mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle are going to suffer heftier financial penalties if they are caught in the act.

As of June 1, the new distracted driving penalties went into effect and offenders will have to pay higher fines, accrue more penalty points and face possible driving prohibitions if they are repeat offenders.

A distracted driving offence has a fine of $368, (up from $167) and the number of penalty points per infraction is now four (up from three).

ICBC driver penalty point premiums start at $175 for the first four penalty points and jumped to a minimum $520 for a second offence within the same 12-month period.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett says something had to be done to deter distracted drivers.

“It’s too bad you have to double and triple fines and give penalty points to encourage people to pay attention when they drive and not use their cell phones, iPads and iPods.

“Cars are going so fast these days and there are so many things you have to watch for on the

road – pedestrians, cyclists, animals on the road.”

It takes all of your attention to drive a vehicle, she adds.

“When you think there has been 66 deaths from distracted driving and people end up in hospitals and vehicles are demolished … and people wonder why our ICBC rates go up. The more incidents there are, somebody has to pay for it and it’s always the public.”

Distracted driving is now considered a high-risk driving offence, which makes it equivalent to excessive speeding, driving without due care and attention, and driving without reasonable consideration.