B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Distracted driving tickets not for ICBC revenue, B.C. minister says

Minister Mike Farnworth calls SenseBC analysis ‘nonsense’

Whether your phone is sitting in your vehicle cupholder to charge, or whether you actually use it for anything other than taking a hands-free call, it could cost you at least $543 for a distracted driving charge.

That includes the $368 ticket, plus another $175 for the four ICBC penalty points that were added in 2017 when the B.C. NDP government declared distracted driving to be a “high risk” offence. Two distracted tickets in three years will cost you $2,000.

Asked about a Sense BC video that shows distracted driving incidents declining in B.C., Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth dismissed suggestions that the blitz of thousands of distracted driving tickets in recent years is a revenue stream for the struggling public insurer.

“First off that’s nonsense,” Farnworth told reporters at the B.C. legislature this week. “I think most people in this province recognize that distracted driving is dangerous. Most people recognize in this province that excessive speeding is dangerous, and most people in this province support the measures to ensure that people drive more responsibly and safely.”

SenseBC’s video creator Chris Thompson emphasized the B.C. government’s focus on distracted driving being a bigger problem than impaired driving, as if distracted driving deaths and injuries were on the rise. The driver advocacy organization provided statistics to Black Press from public sources to show they are not, despite a huge increase in cell phone use since the iPhone was introduced in 2007.

The video, Speed Kills Your Pocketbook 2: Lying With Statistics, shows a CBC television clip of Attorney General David Eby, arguing that because impaired driving fatalities and injuries are falling faster than those attributed to distracted driving, the latter should be cracked down on further. One proposed next step would be to void ICBC insurance in the case of distracted driving, as with impaired driving or street racing.

RELATED: Cell phone tickets a tax grab, driver advocates say

RELATED: Police cancel $368 ticket for cell phone in cupholder

RELATED: B.C. hikes distracted driving penalties by $740

“Actually some of the stats that we’ve received indicate that distracted driving could be a worse problem than impaired driving,” Eby told the CBC. “So to treat distracted driving as different from impaired driving seems strange.”

Thompson, whose 2013 video Speed Kills Your Pocketbook led to increased speed limits on some remote divided highways in B.C., says in the sequel that that between 2007 and 2016, annual distracted driving fatalities fell from 100 to 80 per year. Over the same period, impaired driving fatalities fell even more, from 170 to just below 80.

“Distracted driving fines are skyrocketing because fewer people are getting killed by drunk drivers,” Thompson says in the video.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Construction begins on 180-unit rental complex in Penticton

Rental community with 138 two-bedroom units and 42 one-bedroom units to be built on old trailer park

Professional misconduct lands Penticton lawyer $15k fine

Daniel Kay Lo fined $15,000 by B.C. Law Society after admitting to five counts of misconduct.

Highway 97 petition founder encouraged by public’s reaction

Printed out, the list of 26,000 names creates a stack of paper four inches thick.

RDOS hears concerns about 5G wireless technology

Potential safety concerns raised as communications technology expands

Mental health disorders, suicide on the rise among Okanagan students

The survey was conducted by the McCreary Centre Society in 2018

UPDATE: Protesters say they will maintain blockade near Chase “as long as it takes”

Signs at protest site say in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en

Petition seeks to remove local police department from Lindsay Buziak murder case

American woman starts online petition in hopes of helping Buziak family

Deaths on popular Shuswap trail ruled accidental

B.C. Coroners Service reports on fatal falls in May and July 2019

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

‘Chain reaction pile up’ closes southbound traffic on Coquihalla Highway

Black Press Media has reached out to RCMP, paramedics for details

Federal minister to speak in North Okanagan

Greater Vernon Chamber welcomes middle class prosperity minister to talk money

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

EDITORIAL: Thoughtless posts to Facebook cause real harm and stress

At the risk of resembling a broken record, it needs to be… Continue reading

Most Read