For Immediate Release
Jan. 6, 2012
Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
B.C.’s distracted driving law saves lives
VICTORIA – B.C.’s comprehensive distracted driving law is estimated to have saved 16 lives and brought about a 12 per cent reduction in the number of serious injuries since the law was introduced two years ago.
Changes to the Motor Vehicle Act came into force Feb. 1, 2010 to prevent the use of hand-held cellphones and electronic devices while driving. Drivers are prohibited from operating or holding electronic devices, such as cellphones. This offence is subject to a fine of $167.
Drivers caught texting or emailing will receive three penalty points in addition to the fine. Drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program are not permitted to use any device, including hands-free.
From Feb. 1, 2010 to July 31, 2011, fatalities related to distracted driving dropped by 12 per cent. Serious injuries related to distracted driving went down 12 per cent when compared to deaths and serious injuries between Feb. 1, 2008 and July 31, 2009.
Using a hand-held cellphone is the number-one cause of distracted driving – a choice that comes with consequences. Evidence shows that talking on a cellphone while driving reduces a driver’s field of vision by 50 per cent and quadruples the risk of causing a motor vehicle crash.
Between Feb. 1, 2010 and Sept. 30, 2011, police issued 46,008 tickets to drivers for using a hand-held electronic device while driving. During the same time period, another 1,372 tickets were issued to drivers for emailing or texting while driving. Police have issued over 34 per cent more tickets for distracted driving in 2011 than in the previous year.
Each year, police, ICBC and road safety partners join together to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and how we can all help make our roads safer by making smart decisions.
Shirley Bond, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General –
“While the statistics show that we have seen a reduction in fatalities and serious injuries, far too many people are not getting the message. If you choose to text or talk on your cellphone when you are driving, you are putting your life and the lives of others at risk.”
“Could any phone call or text message be worth that risk? When you buckle up, make it part of your routine to leave your electronic devices in the trunk, a purse or a briefcase. Don't risk getting a fine, points or, worse yet, a serious injury or death.”
Victoria Chief Constable Jamie Graham, chair of the Traffic Committee of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police –
“This law gave police another enforcement tool to help make roads safer, but two years later we are still seeing too many drivers texting, emailing and generally not paying attention behind the wheel. This dangerous behaviour has to stop or we will continue to see unnecessary and tragic accidents on the roads of British Columbia.”
· Police reported use of communication equipment (including cellphones) as a factor in 50 crashes and for 68 injury victims – four of those injured seriously – between when the law came into force in February 2010 and July 2011. This can be compared to the time before legislation was enacted (February 2008 to July 2009) when police reported use of communication equipment as a factor in 80 crashes, and for 96 injury victims – 11 of those serious injuries.
· Fully licensed drivers are restricted to using only hands-free cellphones and other hand-held electronic devices, and cannot text or email while driving.
· Drivers talking on a hand-held phone or electronic device are subject to a fine of $167 and drivers caught texting or emailing will receive three penalty points in addition to the fine.
· Drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program have a full ban on all cellphone and electronic devices, including hands free, subject to a fine and three penalty points for any violation.
For further details of what is permitted and what is prohibited under the legislation, click on ‘Get the Facts’ at: http://www.drivecellsafe.ca
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