BC is planning to designate distracted drivers as a high-risk driving behaviour under the ICBC Driver Risk Premium program, the government announced Monday.
The new policy means that a driver with two distracted driving tickets in a three-year period will see their total financial penalties rise to as much as $2,000 – an increase of $740 over the existing penalties.
This is in addition to their regular insurance premium.
“Distracted driving continues to put people in danger and significant pressure on insurance rates for all drivers,” said Attorney General David Eby in a release. “Today, we are taking action to curb the behaviour and improve safety for all B.C. road users.”
The new policy will “treat distracted driving as the serious high-risk behaviour that it is; one that is on par with impaired driving and excessive speeding.”
When fully implemented, the changes will result in about $3 million to $5 million in additional premiums collected annually, which will be used to offset ICBC’s overall basic insurance rate pressures, benefiting drivers around the province.
“B.C. already has some of the toughest distracted-driving penalties in Canada and these changes make our rules even tougher,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
Distracted driving is a factor in more than 25% of all car crash fatalities in BC and there are currently about 12,000 drivers in the province that have multiple distracted-driving offences over a three-year period, the government said.
“Two seconds… is all it takes”
As the victim of a crash due to distracted driving, Paula Pepin knows firsthand the consequences that can arise from such behaviour.
“Two seconds of looking at your screen is all it takes to cross the lane into oncoming traffic,” she said. ”
The changes to high-risk driving behaviour require changes to the ICBC Basic Insurance Tariff. The changes would be in effect for convictions beginning March 1, 2018.
The Driver Risk Premium charges are separate from Autoplan vehicle insurance premiums and are billed even if the individual does not own or insure a vehicle.
For example, currently two distracted driving tickets in one year will cost approximately $1,256. With this change, the cost will be approximately $2,000.