Distracted Driving Consultation

Between June 16, 2015 and July 16, 2015 the provincial Government conducted an online consultation with British Columbians on the topic of distracted driving. The purpose of the consultation was to both receive input regarding possible changes to B.C.’s distracted driving sanctions and frame future discussions by B.C.’s road safety partners. The consultation received over 69,000 responses from 9,400 individual contributors and accumulated 24,000 website visits over a four-week period.

What We Heard

From the passionate and heartfelt views consultation participants provided through the consultation, two clear themes emerged: (1) distracted driving is a serious concern on B.C. roads, and (2) there is strong support for increasing the current sanctions for distracted driving in the province.   

Theme #1: Distracted Driving is a Concern in B.C.

When asked about what was the most pressing concern on B.C. roads, 70% of the online-poll respondents identified the use of electronic devices as the most serious issue. While handheld devices are not implicated in all distracted driving fatalities, many submissions cite these devices as the cause of near-misses and serious injuries that the respondents had either witnessed or experienced. Nearly 90% of respondents indicated that they were very concerned about distracted driving in B.C. This concern highlights the need to remember that even a moment distracted can be dangerous for you as a driver and to everyone else on the road around you. Distracted driving risks the endangerment of both life and property, where either levels of injury or loss are unacceptable.

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Theme #2: Support for Increased Sanctions for Distracted Driving.

Distracted driving, in all of its forms, is the second-highest contributing factor to motor vehicle related fatalities in B.C., with 88 deaths per year. It is estimated that over 9,500 drivers are using a hand-held device while driving at any given time in B.C., with 40% of those drivers texting behind the wheel. Currently, the penalty for using a hand-held electronic device while driving is a $167 fine and three penalty points. From our consultation, 90% of respondents were in favour of increasing the fines and 66% of respondents thought that distracted drivers should get more than the current 3-point penalty.

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Next Steps:

RoadSafetyBC has completed an analysis of the consultation submission and data, and options for potential increased sanctions are being considered. The Province anticipates announcing new measures to further address distracted driving in spring 2016.