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Changes to the Motor Vehicle Act were brought in on Feb.1, 2010, with the purpose of preventing the use of hand-held devices while driving. Under the act, drivers are prohibited from operating or holding electronic devices, such as cell phones. The offence is subject to a $167 fine.

Driver caught using electronic devices will also receive three penalty points in addition to the fine.

According to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, from Feb.1, 2010 to July 31, 2011, fatalities related to distracted driving dropped by 12 per cent. Serious injuries related to distracted driving also decreased 12 per cent when compared to deaths and serious injuries between Feb. 1, 2008 and July 31, 2009.

Shirley Bond, Minster of Public Safety and Solicitor General talked about the importance of the new law for drivers.

“This law gave police another enforcement tool to help make road 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 of we will continue to see unnecessary and tragic accidents on the roads of British Columbia.”

Using hand-held devices is the number-one cause of distracted driving, one that comes with consequences. Evidence shows that talking on a cell phone while driving reduces the driver’s field of vision by 50 per cent, as well as quadruples the risk of causing a motor vehicle collision.

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 that same period, another 1,372 tickets were issued to drivers for emailing or texting while driving.

Police have also issued over 34 per cent more tickets for distracted driving in 2011 than in the pervious year.     

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