B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Distracted driving tickets not for ICBC revenue, B.C. minister says

Minister Mike Farnworth calls SenseBC analysis ‘nonsense’

Whether your phone is sitting in your vehicle cupholder to charge, or whether you actually use it for anything other than taking a hands-free call, it could cost you at least $543 for a distracted driving charge.

That includes the $368 ticket, plus another $175 for the four ICBC penalty points that were added in 2017 when the B.C. NDP government declared distracted driving to be a “high risk” offence. Two distracted tickets in three years will cost you $2,000.

Asked about a Sense BC video that shows distracted driving incidents declining in B.C., Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth dismissed suggestions that the blitz of thousands of distracted driving tickets in recent years is a revenue stream for the struggling public insurer.

“First off that’s nonsense,” Farnworth told reporters at the B.C. legislature this week. “I think most people in this province recognize that distracted driving is dangerous. Most people recognize in this province that excessive speeding is dangerous, and most people in this province support the measures to ensure that people drive more responsibly and safely.”

SenseBC’s video creator Chris Thompson emphasized the B.C. government’s focus on distracted driving being a bigger problem than impaired driving, as if distracted driving deaths and injuries were on the rise. The driver advocacy organization provided statistics to Black Press from public sources to show they are not, despite a huge increase in cell phone use since the iPhone was introduced in 2007.

The video, Speed Kills Your Pocketbook 2: Lying With Statistics, shows a CBC television clip of Attorney General David Eby, arguing that because impaired driving fatalities and injuries are falling faster than those attributed to distracted driving, the latter should be cracked down on further. One proposed next step would be to void ICBC insurance in the case of distracted driving, as with impaired driving or street racing.

RELATED: Cell phone tickets a tax grab, driver advocates say

RELATED: Police cancel $368 ticket for cell phone in cupholder

RELATED: B.C. hikes distracted driving penalties by $740

“Actually some of the stats that we’ve received indicate that distracted driving could be a worse problem than impaired driving,” Eby told the CBC. “So to treat distracted driving as different from impaired driving seems strange.”

Thompson, whose 2013 video Speed Kills Your Pocketbook led to increased speed limits on some remote divided highways in B.C., says in the sequel that that between 2007 and 2016, annual distracted driving fatalities fell from 100 to 80 per year. Over the same period, impaired driving fatalities fell even more, from 170 to just below 80.

“Distracted driving fines are skyrocketing because fewer people are getting killed by drunk drivers,” Thompson says in the video.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rob Morrison sworn in as Kootenay-Columbia MP

Parliament set to reconvene on Thursday with election of House Speaker, Throne Speech

LETTER: Reflections on democracy and community from former Green party candidate

Abra Brynne ran in the 2019 federal election to be Kootenay-Columbia’s MP

Basin economic snapshot shows Kootenay a mixed bag

State of the Basin report shows economic recovery from recession a slow go

B.C. woman charged in connection to stolen vehicle smash-up in Kamloops

Kersten Ina Peters was arrested in the Fraser Valley on Friday, Dec. 6

Tavares scores twice as Maple Leafs earn 4-1 win over Canucks

Vancouver sees two-game win streak snapped

UPDATED: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash: RCMP

Coroner confirms multiple fatalities after small plane goes down Tuesday night near Nanaimo

VIDEO: Harbour Air makes history with first electric aircraft test flight

Successful flight marks first of its kind in the world

The Grinch who Stole a Hedge: Security camera captures Chilliwack tree theft

RCMP arrives as person calmly walks away with tree in downtown area

Salmonella outbreak in Canada linked to rodents and snakes

92 cases of salmonella across six provinces, including B.C.

Meng Wanzhou wins right to more documents involving arrest at Vancouver airport

Defence lawyers allege the Huawei executive was unlawfully detained, searched and interrogated

Truck with body inside found at bottom of lake near Kootenay ferry

Investigators believe no foul play is expected but are unsure how the vehicle ended up in the Arrow Lakes

Most Read