ABBOTSFORD – Abbotsford MLAs are reminding drivers to leave their phone alone while driving or they will face tougher penalties for distracted driving.

New, tougher penalties including significantly higher fines, more penalty points, and earlier interventions for repeat offenders – including driving prohibitions – are part of the B.C. government’s push to eliminate distracted driving and make roads safer.

“Distracted driving is completely avoidable, but the message isn’t getting through,” Abbotsford West MLA Michael de Jong said. “With considerably higher fines and increased penalty points, we will be hitting irresponsible drivers where it hurts – their wallets and the possibility of losing their driver’s licence.”

Effective June 1, distracted drivers are subject to the following:

  • Each offence will include a base fine of $368 – up from $167 – and will add four penalty points to a person’s driving record.
  • First-time offenders will face a minimum $543 in financial penalties, which includes ICBC’s escalating Driver Penalty Point (DPP) premium of $175 for the first offence.
  • Repeat offenders, upon a second offence within 12 months will pay the $368 fine plus the ICBC DPP of $520 for a total of $888 in financial penalties, which escalate further for any additional offence
  • Repeat offenders will also have their driving record subject to automatic review which could result in a three-to-12 month driving prohibition.

Distracted driving is one of the top contributing factors in motor vehicle deaths in B.C. In 2014 alone, 66 people were killed and 630 were seriously injured in crashes caused by distracted driving and inattention.

“Each death and injury from distracted driving is 100 per cent preventable,” Abbotsford South MLA Darryl Plecas said. “We want B.C. to have the safest roads in North America by 2020 and one way to achieve this is to continue raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and putting an end to this dangerous and preventable behaviour.”

These harsh new sanctions reflect what the B.C. government heard during a public consultation in which 90 per cent of respondents indicated they support stronger distracted driving penalties to help make roads safer.