Are BC’s Distracted Driving Laws Tough Enough? Tell Us


Should drivers caught texting face greater sanctions than those talking on a hand-held device?
Should new drivers or repeat offenders face greater distracted driving penalties?
Should sanctions such as prohibitions and vehicle impoundments be considered?

RoadSafetyBC love to hear your thoughts on these questions and more around distracted driving penalties. Too lenient? Not high enough? The BC government is thinking about raising penalties for distracted driving and so want to hear from you.

Starting today (June 16, 2015) until July 16, 2015, you can share your comments on a new website on whether BC’s current fine of $167 and three penalty points is enough to stop people from this dangerous habit. Or tweet @RoadSafetyBC using the hashtag #distractedBC to participate.

To get started, here are 10 things you need to know:

  1. Under the definition of using of an electronic device, there is a complete ban on a driver who is: holding, operating, communicating, or watching the screen of a hand-held electronic communication device, including devices that process or compute data, sending or receiving text messages or email on any type of electronic device.
  2. BC’s distracted driving legislation also prohibits drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program from using all hand-held electronic devices, including hands-free.
  3. BC introduced its distracted driving legislation five years ago.
  4. The penalties for using an electronic device were increased in October 2014 to a $167 fine and three penalty points.
  5. Penalties vary considerably from province to province. In Nova Scotia, the maximum fine
    amount is $579, while Ontario’s is $500. Ontario has recently passed legislation to change the
    maximum fine amount to $1,000.
  6. BC’s fine amount of $167 is the second-lowest in Canada.
  7. Distracted driving is now the second-leading contributing factor in motor vehicle deaths on our roads.
  8. An estimated 9,500 drivers in BC are using a hand-held electronic device at any given time, and 40% of them are texting or emailing while driving.
  9. Texting or using a smartphone while driving is more distracting than talking on one the crash risk is 23 times higher for drivers who text.
  10. In 2014, police issued approximately 55,100 tickets to drivers who were caught using an electronic device behind the wheel in 2013, they issued about 53,000.

After this consultation, RoadSafetyBC will consider the feedback in its recommendations for any revisions to distracted driving penalties in our province.

You can also check out the news release.

And remember that website:


21 comments on “Are BC’s Distracted Driving Laws Tough Enough? Tell Us”

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  1. I think that we could do even more. I think that drivers when they come to renewal for licence should have to re-take both the written and field drivers exam. Personally, I would like to see this across the board, but if only those cited for distracted driving went thru this process, it might help. Also, I REALLY believe that anyone driving a car with an “N” should have a govenor on the throttle thus allowing them to only go a top speed of 80km/hr. This would remain until they pass their licence. There is no reason that a car should be clocked at 162km/hr in a school zone ever. These are my suggestions and only suggestions. I’m just tired of seeing kids die because their car can go fast.

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  3. First conviction = Two weeks in jail. NO exceptions
    Second conviction = Two months in jail and lose vehicle permanently. NO exceptions

  4. The fines should be increased and should include other distractions such as eating, drinking, makeup application, dogs on laps, etc.

  5. Why aren’t people charged with driving without due care and attention for this offense? Let’s keep it simple instead of creating new laws/regulations/penalties. Let’s use what’s on the books already. Officers could give the distracted penalty for first offense and then driving without due care for additional offenses. When the penalty points add up, the chronic offenders will have their licenses suspended.

  6. 1st offense $1,000 + penalty points
    2nd offense $1,000, penalty points, impound vehicle and phone
    3rd offense $1000, penalty points, impound vehicle and phone, suspend license 6 months

    N drivers
    1st offense $1000, penalty points, impound vehicle and phone, immediate suspension of license 1 yr

    The distracted driving penalties are not working. If you want to stop the behavior, there has to be a serious deterrent. Education has not worked, we all know that it is extremely dangerous yet people continue to do it.
    Driving is a privledge, not a right.
    How many more innocent and senseless deaths have to occur before it stops.

  7. If handheld devices cause a peril to road safety at a similar or higher rate than impaired driving, then a motor traffic penalty is completely inadequate. Although, I recognize that we need to start somewhere.

    Impaired driving is a criminal code offence because of the public safety/road safety aspect. Likewise, distracted driving should be a criminal code offence and should be treated the same. The choice to disregard the law and use a handheld device is a conscious negligence toward one’s responsibility as a driver. It is time for the provinces to come together and lobby to have this issue dealt with at the federal level and have it addressed by way of a federal statute. Until then it will be largely “risked out” by drivers. If we lost 88 lives in a year to impaired driving I am certain it would be dealt with in a different manner than a fine and some demerit points.

  8. Also, cell phones should be programmed to not receive or send unless a car is turned off. We have the technology I am sure. That would pre-empt a lot of problems.

  9. Please put the fine up to $1000 for first offense and take the phone away for 1 month, there is nothing so important that you need to take the risk of killing or hurting yourself and others.

  10. Make a law that cellphones must be turned off or in Emergincy Mode while driving.
    Emergincy mode is so the driver can be alerted to Emergincy purposes.
    find for texting should be $200 + some points and/or supend licence for one year

    Receiving road information like road closed ahead, bad weather and anything the
    driver needs to know should be the only activitiy should be on the screen any other
    use not permitted while driving.

  11. As a P.O I absolutly agree that the fine amounts need to be increased for distracted driving. I attend far too many MVA that are caused by distracted drivers and it doesn’t seem to matter how many tickets we write these drivers that insist on breaking this law are’nt getting the message. Increase the ticket amount, increase the amount of points or impound the vehicle something needs to change.
    I also feel that a “New Driver” who is caught breaking this law that their D/L be seized immediatly at roadside with a min. 6 month suspension.
    Also if a driver is caught using an electronic device within a school or playground zone that they should pay a higher penalty.

    Obviously what were doing is’nt working so it needs to change NOW!!!

  12. Definitely support increasing fines for distracted driving. I see it every day and have had a couple near-misses of drivers simply not paying attention to their ‘privledge’ to drive. I’d like the see the trucking industry involved in resolving this issue as well. I can’t say how many times I’ve seen large commercial trucks with their drivers behind the wheel texting! Company’s need to get behind the law and ensure their employees are adhering to the rules. The repercussions of a large truck hitting another vehicle is significant and there needs to be a zero tolerance for all vehicles, especially trucks!!

  13. the present system obviously does not work, so I think

    1: a first offender fine of 250.00 and points

    2: twice offending 1000.00 fine and no driving for 1 month and additional points

    3: third time offending 1000.00 fine, additional points, suspended license for 1 year.

    People who do not abide by the laws and safety practices simply should not be on the road. There is nothing so important that it cannot wait until one finds a safe place to pull off to the side of the road.

  14. The fines for distracted driving need to be significantly higher in order to stop this behaviour – I would like to see the fine at $1000 or more AND I like the idea of confiscating their phone as well. If a driver is not bothered by a $1000 fine they certainly will be inconvenienced by losing their phone.

  15. I do not think the laws are strict enough. I see people using hand held devices all the time while driving. Perhaps phones should be taken away from people if caught texting. This would be a good financial deterrent and also a huge inconvenience.

  16. The current fine for this offence is such that offenders will take the chance of not getting caught. I think it’s time to raise the first offence to near $500.00 and any re-occurring offense to $750.00. At the very least, give this a try to see if this results in an improvement.

  17. Unfortunately, I think the only deterrent is very, very large fines. I also think you can change a significant amount of people with a scared straight approach, too. I think you should start with ads on every big screen in the province, especially near the Patulla Bridge, Lion’s Gate etc, and other high accident/volume area, which advertise that in one month/week it is a $1000 fine. Blast the TV, front page in the paper with pictures and numbers of accidents related to distracted driving. Leave no room for anyone to say they didn’t know and why this needs to be enforced. Advertise that maybe people need to put their phones in the trunk. Then on the first of the month, impose the fine. Call in every officer available for a week, put them out there and get every distracted driver. Tell the drivers that if it is paid within 2 weeks, the fine will be dropped down to the original $176.00 for one time only. If the behaviour is going to change, it will. Then, if it doesn’t, 2 distracted tickets and 3 month suspension of licence. I think it is important to advertise facts, figures, warnings etc everywhere. The money can come from the fines that will come in the future. Within a year the behaviour should diminish, because people cannot get insurance if the fines are not paid. Being enforceable, advertising that people are dying and the fine is $1000.00 everywhere and then quickly enforcing the consequences, should eventually but effectively diminish the behaviour within a year.


  19. The fines are way too low!! I still see a huge number of drivers using( text & calling )on their electronic devices while driving every day !!

    Make the fines extremely high,how about $1000.00 for the first offence and double it each time they get caught.Also,take away more points.Impound their cars.Make them do community work.

    Our families safety is at risk.Everyones family is at risk.They are worse than drunk drivers because of the sheer number of drivers doing this.

    That’s just for starters!!

    • After reading several other comment, I will put my thoughts down succinctly.

      Fines should be hefty. Points should be hefty.
      Second offenses should be fined heavily, more points, and the vehicle impounded.
      If a person is found to be using hand-held devices and they are in an accident, they should be held 50% responsible, even if it is the other persons fault.
      There should be a minimum fine, not a maximum fine.

      To further help to lessen distraction while driving,there should be legislation for car manufacturers to not put distracting devices in vehicles.

      As adults the punishment has to be severe in order for it to be a deterrent, otherwise we will not change the behaviour.