The high number of accidents caused by distracted driving is the reason B.C. has designated March as Distracted Driving Awareness month.
According to ICBC, distracted driving is a contributing factor in 78 deaths annually on B.C roads.
Police say the public still doesn’t seem aware of what exactly defines distracted driving.
“The offence is complete when the person has that electronic device in their hand, whether they are using it or not,” Constable Steve Holmes of the RCMP said. “Operating a motor vehicle means when the vehicle is on the roadway and the engines running you are operating the motor vehicle.”
People are using their phones as audio devices with headphone and ear buds which is allowed as long as all rules are followed, said Holmes.
“The law allows only the use of one ear bud or headphone speaker for one ear,” he said. “So you can’t have both ear buds or headphones on while you’re driving.”
RCMP say the best advice is to completely ignore your phone while behind the wheel unless you want a $368 fine. The only exception is if you are making an emergency call to 9-1-1.
Effective June 1, 2016, the fine for a distracted driving violation ticket has more than doubled, from $167 to $368. The number of associated penalty points applied to a driver’s record has also increase from 3 to 4 points. On a first infraction, this will also result in a driver paying a further $175 ICBC Driver Penalty Point premium, for a total of $543 for a first infraction. For a second infraction within a one-year period, not only does the driver have to pay another $368, but the ICBC Driver Penalty Point premium will increase to $520.
Follow this link to see a more in depth list of what qualifies as distracted driving.
Government, ICBC and police unite for significant enforcement crackdown on distracted driving
Big fines for distracted driving in BC