Northern BC slow to give feedback on distracted driving laws

Photo by FrankieLeon, Flickr

This area of the province has long been known for its public apathy, particularly when it comes to exercising the right to vote.

Now, the provincial Ministry of Justice has revealed another issue where the north has thus far been significantly under represented.

We have reached the halfway point of the government’s distracted driving public consultation period, and while there’s plenty of feedback across most of the province, only about five per cent of it has come from the north.

The number of visits to the feedback website since June 16 was approaching 12,000, and it is clear most BC residents are very concerned about this dangerous behaviour and would support tougher penalties.

Nearly 90 per cent of respondents put themselves in the very concerned category, and 96 per cent supported escalating sanctions for repeat offenders.

In fact, a majority favors increasing penalties from the current $167 fine and three penalty points, which is the second lowest combination of sanctions in the country.

To date, 11,880 website visits have led to 36,250 responses to nine questions, and this week the government would like to know what people think of vehicular impoundments and licence suspensions, as effective deterrents, for distracted driving.

“On the immediate roadside prohibitions, the drinking and driving prohibitions, the suspension can range from 30 days to 90 days,” said Justice Minister Suzanne Anton.

“At what point might a distracted driver’s license be suspended?”

The severity of the problem is clear from law enforcement numbers last year, as police handed out 55,000 distracted driving tickets, an increase of 2,000 over the previous year.

These numbers also show 88 traffic fatalities in BC last year were due to distracted driving — making it the second-leading cause of death on BC roads.

The consultation runs until July 16, and to add your voice, and help lift pathetic northern area participation numbers you can visit gov.bc.ca/distracting driving.