Hefty Fines Are Needed to Discourage Distracted Driving

B.C.’s new Driver Risk Premium is fair, but it may not deter all distracted drivers

Yuta Anonuevo

According to an article by Surrey-Now Leader, Attorney General David Eby announced on Nov. 6 that the province will consider distracted driving a “high risk” offence, meaning that if drivers receive two tickets over a three-year period, it will cost them up to $2,000.

Drivers will also have to pay their regular insurance on top of the higher premium, and if they still don’t get the message, they may receive a three to 12 month suspension of their license. These changes will come into effect on March 1.

Currently, the rates for distracted driving are higher than impaired driving, according to an article by CTV Vancouver. The Government of B.C. also says that distracted driving is the second-leading contributor in the province’s vehicle fatalities. As stated in the Surrey-Now Leader, the new Driver Risk Premium will treat distracted driving as seriously as B.C. treats impaired driving and excessive speeding.

It’s startling to think that drivers now are more preoccupied with their phones than they are with the road. Gone are the days when impaired driving was the number one cause of accidents. This shows how tight technology’s grip is on everyone—people don’t seem to care anymore about paying attention behind the wheel, even though the RCMP says that distracted driving can affect reaction time and judgement for drivers. Even if someone’s eating a sandwich or listening to loud music, it impacts their judgement.

All drivers should benefit from the new Driver Risk Premium because the $3-5 million that the government will receive from stiffer fines will help reduce the insurance premiums for everyone, according to an article by the CBC. That way, responsible drivers won’t have to worry about their insurance going up because of reckless drivers. Within the past few years, ICBC’s insurance premiums have gone up for everyone, whether they have been safe drivers or not, and many who are safe on the road have grown tired of the increasing hikes.

The government may be able to offer lower insurance rates, but Criminal Defense Lawyer Paul Doroshenko argued in a CBC article that higher fines will not necessarily deter drivers from breaking the law. If people can get away with using their phones while driving, the hefty penalties will not mean much to them in the long-term. Sure, a distracted driver can be fined, but they can easily go back to using their electronic devices afterwards.

Increasing the police presence on roads would help authorities observe drivers more closely to prevent this. Doroshenko said that the government is good at passing these laws, but isn’t great at giving the police the money to enforce them. If the community would like to see more officers enforcing public safety, they also need to have more officers watching them on the road frequently.

In September, CTV Vancouver reported that an individual was ticketed twice in eight minutes for distracted driving. If that didn’t prevent them from driving with distractions again in the future, and that attitude applies to many other British Columbians, who knows if the heftier DRP will truly lessen distracted driving.

The government and ICBC need to continue to find better ways to prevent distracted driving. ICBC has started televising advertisements to advise people to put away their phones at the wheel, but everyone must change their behavior with technology while driving. It has come to a point where many either need to leave their electronic devices behind while getting into a vehicle or have their licenses taken away.

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