Distracted drivers in B.C. to pay higher insurance premiums
If B.C.'s distracted driving penalties weren't doing enough before, the government is now hitting motorists where it hurts – in their insurance premiums.
The province is moving to designate distracted driving as a "high-risk" behaviour under the ICBC Driver Risk Premium program.
That means anyone fined for texting and driving twice within a three-year period will see total penalties rise to as much as $2,000 – a jump of $740 over existing fines – in addition to their regular insurance premium.
It comes after the province more than doubled distracted driving penalties last year, with the base fine jumping from $167 to $368.
"Distracted driving continues to put people in danger and significant pressure on insurance rates for all drivers. Today, we are taking action to curb the behaviour and improve safety for all B.C. road users," B.C. Attorney General David Eby said in a statement. "Once implemented, this change will treat distracted driving as the serious high-risk behaviour that it is; one that is on par with impaired driving and excessive speeding."
Once the new penalty is implemented, the extra $3-million to $5-million in premiums will be used to offset ICBC's overall basic insurance rate pressures.
The changes will be implemented by both ICBC and the B.C. Utilities Commission and are expected to take effect by March 1, 2018.
The province says distracted driving has played a role in more than one-quarter of all car crash fatalities in B.C., killing an average of 78 people each year.